NYTimes & Wash Post Come Out Strongly Against New Restrictions on Syringe Exchange Funding
Posted Aug 07 2009 10:27am
The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would end the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs — a major victory for public health advocates.
Unfortunately, Representatives who do not want to see the ban go away were successful in attaching an amendment to the bill prohibiting federally-funded syringe exchange programs “from operating within 1,000 feet of colleges, universities, parks, video arcades, day-care centers, high schools, public swimming pools and other institutions.” In America’s dense, urban communities where IV drug use and HIV infection rates run high, such restrictions make it nearly impossible to run a federally-funded program, effectively maintaining the blanket ban for America’s hardest hit areas.
It’s possible that this wrong-headed amendment will be stripped out of the bill when the House and Senate go to conference. AIDS Action Council, the national advocacy group, is closely monitoring the situation in DC. In the meantime, opponents of the amendment got an editorial boost this week when both the NYTimes and Washington Post came out strongly against the new restrictions.
From the NYTimes editorial:
“Nearly 600,000 Americans with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic. Nearly a third of those cases can be traced to intravenous drug users who became infected with the virus that causes AIDS by sharing contaminated needles and who sometimes infect wives, lovers and unborn children. Many of the dead would never have been infected if Congress had allowed federal financing for programs that have been shown the world over to slow the spread of disease, without increasing drug use, by making clean needles available to addicts.” ( Read the rest. )
And the Washington Post:
“My experience in Washington was consistent with Fauci’s view. Addicts who came for needles were generally in their 40s and 50s. The availability of clean needles no more caused their addiction than the provision of clean shot glasses would cause alcoholism.” ( Read the rest. )