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Needle Exchange Programs-Too Controversial a Topic for the Personal Statement?


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Hi everyone,


I'm applying to UNO's MSW program for the fall of '16. I need to discuss a contemporary social problem including possible causes and potential solutions, in my personal statement. I want to choose a topic that no one else will be writing about so my application will stand out as much as possible. I really, REALLY want to discuss HIV/AIDS transmission among injection drug users and propose needle sharing programs as a prevention strategy.  I would include studies that summarize the positive behavioral change of users enrolled in NEP's as well as the reduction in HIV incidence after the opening of NEP's. However, I'm not sure how this would go over in admissions... there's so much controversy surrounding this topic and it could be perceived as though I encourage drug use, which of course I do not. Then again, it could just as easily go the other way and be considered impressive and original. 

What are everyone's thoughts on this? Is it worth the risk or should I just choose something safer to discuss?

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I think this could be a really great topic for your essay. I think the general consensus within the social work community is that risk reduction is a worthwhile endeavor in conjunction with treatment and prevention. You said that you'd frame it as a "prevention strategy," which I think would be good. Maybe read some studies on risk reduction and needle exchanges to get some ideas for phrasing and vocabulary so your essay doesn't come off as too inflammatory. I think you should go for it.

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