Remembering US Needle-Exchange Pioneer David Purchase

The needle-exchange movement has been an important development in the effort to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, among drug users. A good amount of credit for the growth of the movement in the United States can be attributed to David Purchase.  In fact, there are unconfirmed reports that Mr. Purchase’s needle exchange work in Tacoma, Washington beginning in 1988 was the first such offering in the United States.

A drug counselor, Mr Purchase used the $3,000 he won in a settlement after being struck by a drunk driver while on his motorcycle to begin to provide clean syringes to his clients. Sadly, Mr Purchase passed away from pneumonia on January 21  at the age of 73. His Point Defiance AIDS Project and the North American Syringe Exchange Network are responsible for keeping 15 million potentially harmful syringes off the streets each year.