I honestly don't know if it's fair to characterize congressional reluctance to overturn the ban as pure politics or if it's still just fear of being cast as soft on drugs. I'm sure it's true of many. Maybe most.
I'd support overturning the ban, but it's a hard thing to muster much enthusiasm for. I look at the photo in story of disposed syringes at a needle exchange and it breaks my heart. It's hard not to see each of those needles as lost dreams, broken families, suffering communities, and pain and despair for countless people who are affected directly and indirectly.
I understand people being reluctant to purchase needles for someone to inject heroin, meth or cocaine. I understand feeling like it would be participating in someone's illness (rather than their recovery) or participating in their self-destruction. What's the alternative? To help people get well. We know how to do it. Programs for impaired health professionals serve large numbers of injection drug users with great outcomes. But, sadly, we haven't done that either. Effective treatment of adequate intensity and duration are out of reach for most people who need it. Instead, we seem to look away. We don't know how to help every one of those injection drug users recover, but we know how to help a lot of them. We CHOOSE not to do so.
I hope the ban is lifted. I hope that we're able to prevent addicts from getting Hepatitis C and HIV. Some people have bad reasons for opposing needle exchanges, but a lot of people have better reasons and still more just can't bring themselves to be pro -needle exchange. It seems to me that this message would have a lot more appeal if was about helping people get well, rather than just preventing them from getting sick. So, I hope that we do more than simply prevent them from contracting diseases. I hope we offer them an opportunity to recover--every one of them.
It's also worth noting that last time I looked (it's been a few years) the number overdose deaths was three times the number of new cases of HIV.