In 1992 in Los Angeles, where needle exchanges were already in effect, the rate of HIV among those who injected drugs was 8.4%. In 1993, the HIV rate in Miami for that population was the highest in the country: 48%. Although Miami put into place HIV-prevention programs, there has never been a large-scale needle exchange program there. Today the rate of HIV among injection drug users in Miami is 16%. In Los Angeles, the rate stayed low, and as of 2009, the most recent data available, it was 5%.
These facts have important consequences. Extrapolating from county data, it’s believed that about 34,000 Los Angeles residents are injection drug users. The California Department of Public Health calculates the lifetime costs of treating one person with HIV at $385,200. If those 34,000 Angelenos had an HIV rate of 16% rather than 5%, we’d be spending an additional $1.4 billion in treatment costs.
Source: Los Angeles Times – April 10, 2012