Saturday, April 14, 2007

Drug prohibition is stupid aka GIVE ME MY SYRINGES, JERK!

Today I tried to buy 10 syringes without a prescription and was denied. I had left a box at work in a building locked over the weekend, and I needed more. I knew from working in HIV prevention/surveillance about the IL law that allows people over 18 to buy (and possess) up to 20 syringes without a prescription. Although it is limited in it's ability to increase access to clean syringes (cost, needing an ID to prove age for undocumented immigrants, trans people, young people, and poor people, and the issue of pharmacies actually complying), I think it's a great step in the right direction because it supports harm reduction and drug decriminalization.

Moralizing is stupid and an obstacle to accessing dignified healthcare and other services. The U.S. war on drugs is racist, harmful domestically and in other countries (like Colombia), and ineffective. Yes, non-prescribed injectable drugs can be harmful, but dirty needles are harmful too, and forcing someone to use them doesn't help anything! Several studies have shown that pharmacy sales of syringes without a prescription did not increase illegal drug use, and decreased high-risk behaviors for HIV. Sharing syringes is a major source of HIV and Hepatitis C infection:
  • In the U.S., about 50% of all new HIV cases can be traced back to injection drug use (in people that use, their partners, or their children).
  • Sharing syringes is the leading source of Hepatitis C infection.
  • In Illinois, 70% of AIDS cases among women and almost all pediatric AIDS cases are associated with sharing syringes (including sharing of syringes by the mother of the child who is then exposed at birth).
I think that, among many other things, a fundamental disrespect of or apathy towards the lives and well-being of people affected by these issues is at the root of policies refusing to provide access to clean syringes. In addition to moralizing anti-drug sentiments, racism, classism, and sexism play into this. The Chicago Department of Public Health reports that the 2005 HIV diagnosis rate in black females was more than 15 times that of white females.

Despite citing the law and threatening to report her to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago syringe access project, the pharmacist still refused to sell me the syringes. She acknowledged that the law exists but said, "it's at the discretion of the pharmacist." Even when I appealed to the fact that I am diabetic and needed them for insulin, offering to show her my medic alert bracelet and blood test meter, she refused. I think that people that need clean syringes to prevent HIV/Hepatitis C infection when they use syringes for other purposes not sanctioned by laws and/or medicine (illegal drugs, unprescribed hormones) "deserve" them just as much, but my diabetes is seen as more deserving by many people so I tried that appeal.

It was pretty incredible to have someone look at me and say, no, I am going to deny you access to the supplies that you NEED to stay alive and healthy. And have them have the power to make that decision. I guess a lot of people face this kind of cruel denial on a routine basis, from lacking funds or other issues with our fucked up health care system.

(I did get the syringes from another pharmacy without a problem).

Thanks to the diabetes art pool for the image.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Science of Sleep

I saw the Science of Sleep last weekend. I liked it - weird and abstract, and I might not have liked it if I was in a different mood, but I enjoyed it. One of the friends I saw it with, an artist, loved it, and the other HATED it ("Half a star! Or less!"). I thought the shifting between and blurring of Stephane's "real world" and dream world which takes form of his own TV show was interesting, but I could see how it would annoy some people looking for a grasp-able storyline. I think if I saw this 5 years ago I might have been annoyed.

The movie critiqued the world of 9 to 5 work and repetitive jobs in a really imaginative way. All of the hyperbole you might come up with in your head about how your boss is driving you into the ground, and how you resist or dream of resisting, is manifested in fantastical scenes. It's funny, and pretty. The movie also did a good job of capturing that ridiculous/stupid feeling you get after embarassing moments.

At the end, we see how much the main character (Stephane) is being a selfish asshole. It made me mad at him, but I think it made me appreciate the movie more. I'm not into gooey cute romances or perfect happy straight couples/resolutions (although this movie was so twisted up onto itself there was no way it could've resolved anything if it wanted to). Also, I think it was good because it showed how being so self-involved in your fantasy world, while interesting, is self-centered and sometimes annoying, which I think some pretentious art misses.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday pet blogging: Bad dog caught green-headed.

Last week, I found Zack sitting like this, staring at the wall, trying not to look guilty:

Who me? I didn't do anything! I'm just sittin' here...

Hahahahaha. He raided the trash as usual, but this time he got the swingy-lid stuck on his head. This dog will eat anything, with tissues or any other paper products with snot or other secretions on them and cat litter being near the top of the list. Sad thing for him was that all this garbage can had in it was a piece of junk mail.