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Clinton Must Heed Presidential HIV/AIDS Advisory Council's Recommendations To Increase Housing Funds, Allow Needle Exchange

Statement of Christine Lubinski
Deputy Executive Director, AIDS Action Council

July 9, 1996

AIDS Action Council Press Statement

The Clinton Administration has made extraordinary advances in responding to the AIDS epidemic through funding, human resources and genuine commitment. Yet, as the AIDS epidemic moves increasingly into low-income communities and infection rates increase among women of color and their families, the critical needs of many living with HIV and AIDS and those in danger of contracting this deadly disease remain unmet and unresolved.

AIDS Action, in concurrence with the recommendations made by the President's Council, calls upon President Clinton to demonstrate a stronger commitment to the critical Housing for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program. Funding for this program has not been increased despite a 23% rise in communities qualifying for HOPWA funds. Under this strain, communities continue to suffer from dramatic cuts as other newly eligible communities enter the program. President Clinton must be reminded that, in light of growing infection rates, the failure to increase HOPWA funding denies homes and shelter to the newly infected and those recently impoverished by the expense of treating HIV and AIDS. At any given time, close to one half of all Americans living with HIV and AIDS are either homeless or are in imminent danger of losing their homes. At present, stable housing, access to quality health care as well as life-extending drugs remain elusive for thousands of individuals and families battling this deadly disease.

The Administration must demonstrate leadership in promoting a public health policy for substance abuse that recognizes its deadly relationship to the AIDS epidemic. AIDS Action calls on the Administration to commit to adequate funding for substance abuse treatment with particular attention to the treatment needs of women, intravenous drug users and HIV-infected individuals. With 71% of new infections among women attributed to injection drug use, it becomes painfully clear that substance abuse treatment is primary prevention for HIV disease.

AIDS Action also strongly supports the President's Council's call to lift the prohibition on federal funding for needle exchange programs. Compelling and widely accepted research illustrates that needle exchange programs save lives without encouraging drug use - all while encouraging individuals to seek drug treatment. The Administration must actively encourage communities to adopt effective needle exchange programs that will reduce significantly HIV infection rates.

Founded in 1984, AIDS Action Council is the only national organization devoted solely to advocating on federal AIDS policy, legislation and funding. AIDS Action represents more than 1,400 community-based AIDS service organizations throughout the United States.

For more information, contact
Kevin A. Mercuri
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, Ext. 3065
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.