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Local and Community News

Plan Restores Funding for Needle Exchange in Milwaukee

October 18, 2002

The Milwaukee County Board's Finance and Audit Committee on Monday unanimously recommended restoration of $150,000 in the 2003 budget to support a needle exchange program and other AIDS prevention efforts. The actions came after testimony about the success of needle exchange in easing the spread of AIDS among users of injection drugs. The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin runs the program.

County Executive Scott Walker's proposed budget excluded the program. Walker has said he supports AIDS prevention but does not want public money supporting illegal drug use through the provision of clean needles to drug users. His budget would eliminate $230,000 for the center, which last year used the money for counseling and drug treatment in addition to needle exchange.

Walker, who has threatened to veto any spending increases that would cause the county tax levy to rise, reacted strongly to the finance committee's move. "I have a hard time believing that a majority of Milwaukee County taxpayers want their tax dollars going to pay to continue the habits of illegal drug users," he said. Walker said it was unfortunate that the committee, in its review of his budget proposal, added funding for the AIDS program and several other programs he excluded.

Supervisors were told that county money has supported staff but not the actual purchase of needles for the program. Eliminating the program would actually cost county taxpayers more in the end because AIDS patients often are eligible for county-financed medical care, center official Mike Gifford told the committee. The full board is to vote on the budget amendments Nov. 4. Walker will then get an opportunity to veto add-backs, and supervisors then get a final vote.

Back to other CDC news for October 18, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
10.15.02; Dave Umhoefer

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
More on Needle Exchange & HIV/AIDS in Other U.S. States