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Report: Non-reusable syringes little help

Syringes that disable themselves after one use may actually foster the spread of diseases, such as AIDS, because drug addicts may be forced to share more needles than they do now, a government report says.

If the government were to require use of such needles, it should also make sure that clean needles are available to drug users, according to a report by the Office of Technology Assessment.

"If a policy decision was made to adopt or require (difficult-to-reuse) injection equipment for general medical use, but such equipment were not to be supplied to persons injecting illicit drugs, HIV transmission among drug injectors would actually increase," the report said.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

The National Commission on AIDS has long called for allowing drug users easier access to needles, commission spokesman Tom Brandt said Friday.

But there are only a few localities that distribute new needles at no cost in a needle exchange program for drug addicts, and 12 states even require prescriptions to purchase new needles.

The technology office, an agency of Congress, also reported no matter what design is used, people are clever enough to defeat it and use the needles again.