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The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) is helping to fund community based needle exchange programs in an effort to reduce the spread of blood born diseases among intervenes users.

In the United States over 1 million people are living with HIV and AIDS. Fifty thousand new infections occur every year and nearly eight thousand of those are directly related to intervenes drug use, as well as is the spread of hepatitis B and C.

As part of the Program, volunteers set up stations around New York City to service intervenes users from a large van stocked with clean needles and supplies.

Director of Community Relations and New York Harm Reduction Educator, Troy Branch, says, “If you’re going to inject yourself, use clean needles. We’ll give you 50 new ones if you give us 50 old ones. It’s been extremely successful.”

“We know that providing sterile syringes will prevent HIV,” says another volunteer.

Besides the needle exchange, other services are also available from the van, such as hepatitis screening, vaccines, HIV testing and treatment programs.

Branch says, “If it wasn’t for services like ours, these people wouldn’t get any help at all.”

In a statement on the EJAF website, Elton John says, “I have lost many dear friends to this terrible disease. In the mid-1980s, I began channeling my grief into efforts to help raise money for the pioneering charitable organizations that formed during those dark, grim years to fund AIDS research and provide vital services to people with HIV/AIDS.”

Today, forty million people are infected with HIV; eight thousand die every day.

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