Drug, needle use is biggest cause of AIDS in BaltimoreThe...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 29, 1999

Drug, needle use is biggest cause of AIDS in Baltimore

The Sun's two-part series on drug addiction ("Drug addiction fuels murderous trend," June 27 and "How the safety net fails addicts -- and city," June 28) should cause a collective shudder through our city.

For those of us working with people living with HIV/AIDS, the editorial's graphs and pie charts are a grim crystal ball -- predicting a tremendous continuing need for our services.

The river of misery that flows from addiction is even bloodier than the break-ins, homicides, emergency room admissions, prostitution and panhandling the editorial described.

Sharing dirty needles is the primary means of HIV transmission in Baltimore. The charts illustrating that 49 percent of of heroin addicts and 21 percent of crack/cocaine addicts use needles to take their drugs should be an enormous red flag for Baltimore.

The cost of the hospice and other care for the thousands of addicts who are likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS will surely dwarf the cost of providing residential addiction treatment on demand. Efforts to prevent HIV infection are by far the most cost-effective way to deal with the disease.

Baltimore's needle exchange program is one example of a demonstrably successful prevention program.

We hope that our government officials will act responsibly to save innumerable lives by focusing on prevention of AIDS transmission.

Kedren Crosby

Baltimore

The writer is associate director of AIDS Interfaith Residential Services.

Group homes help addicts on the road to recovery

The group homes Thomas Evans mentioned in his letter "Addicts don't belong in residential areas" (June 22) have helped many recovering addicts and alcholics get a much-needed start into the recovery process.

Working in the field of addiction, I've seen the benefits of such homes again and again. I don't know of any problems these home have created in the communities where they operate.

Mr. Evans suggests that the high relapse rate of addicts makes them inappropriate residents of neighborhoods with young children.

He apparently doesn't realize that most of these homes will immediately discharge someone who uses drugs or alcohol. Or that most addicts who use will not want to live in a recovery environment when they begin using again because there is usually much shame when a recovering addict relapses.

Addicts should have the same opportunities as everyone else. Recovery homes are part of the solution to this complex disease process.

Patrick E. Connealy

Columbia

Racetrack needs to help the Park Heights area

The Sun's editorial "Better days ahead for Maryland racing" (June 23) seemed enamored with Joseph De Francis' idea of improving Maryland racing by making cosmetic improvements to Laurel and Pimlico racetracks.

My concern, however, is for the people who will not be affected by these physical accouterments and the ambience intended to attract more customers: the people who live in the empowerment zone near Pimlico, but receive few of the benefits that one would expect from having such a major industry nearby.

Lower Park Heights is one of Baltimore's most impoverished areas. Pimlico racetrack lies in the heart of this community. But how many residents does it employ in meaningful jobs that provide a living wage for them and their families?

How many children and young African-American males who work in the area's open-air drug markets might go straight if they were offered jobs parking cars, directing drivers to parking spaces or raking dirt on the track?

Before The Sun writes about the good that racetrack renovation is likely to bring to the community, it should investigate the extent to which "racetrack impact" money has been used to benefit Lower Park Heights.

It should also note Pimlico's virtual plantation system in which African-Americans occupy the least desirable jobs and few, if any, middle management and higher positions.

Isaiah C. Fletcher Sr.

Baltimore

The South wasn't alone in condoning slavery...

In his letter, "...racism was one thing but slavery was another," (June 10) Larry Rogers suggests that Southern secession was illegitimate because "any nation that would have relied on slavery for its economic and social foundation had no right to exist."

Well, then, how do you excuse the United States for its long involvement with slavery?

All Americans would do well to remember that the Confederate flag never flew over any ship that brought slaves into the United States and the South's constitution forbade the importation of slaves into the Confederate states.

By contrast, slave ships owned or financed by Northern businessmen were the basis of many of the family fortunes of the New England elite. And much of the U.S. industrial revolution was paid for with money earned from "slaving."

The "economic and social foundation" of the United States is directly tied to slavery, just as was the Confederacy.

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