AIDS Action Congratulates Chairman Obey and the Appropriations Committee on Ending the Syringe Exchange Federal Funding Ban
Expresses Disappointment Regarding New Unworkable Restrictions
WASHINGTON, July 20, 2009 – AIDS Action Council congratulates Chairman David R. Obey (D-WI) and Appropriations Committee members on removing the ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange programs (SEPs) from the Labor, Health and Human Services FY 2010 Appropriations bill, which was voted on by the House full Appropriations Committee on Friday. This was an important and long overdue change advocated by the public health, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis communities. It comes nearly 20 years after scientific evidence showed that syringe exchange reduces bloodborne diseases, does not increase substance abuse and helps connect drug users to treatment for infectious disease and substance abuse.
Unfortunately, in a counterproductive move, the full Committee accepted, by voice vote, an amendment to the Appropriations bill that undermines the decision to remove the ban. The amendment restricts federal funding to only SEPs that operate at least 1,000 ft. away from day care centers, schools, universities, public pools, parks, playgrounds, video arcades or youth centers or an event sponsored by these organizations. These unworkable restrictions will make it all but impossible for SEPs to operate in urban areas, once again withdrawing services critical for saving lives and improving the quality of life for many community members.