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Network Action Needed:
Time Is Now for Shalala to Make Determination on Syringe Exchange Programs

November 21, 1997

The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) FY 98 appropriations bill was completed by Congress nearly two weeks ago and signed by President Clinton on November 13. The final version of the bill (see November 11 AIDS Action Network Alert) maintains the authority of the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to allow federal funding of syringe exchange programs, but there is a moratorium - through March 31, 1998 - on her exercising that authority. Congress also established conditions under which federally funded syringe exchange programs would operate.

The AIDS Action community did its work during the appropriations process to defend the secretary's authority on this issue. Now is the time for Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala to take action. Although she cannot actually release federal funds for these programs until the moratorium is ended, there are preparatory measures Secretary Shalala can and must take in order for these funds to be released on April 1.

The first step is for Secretary Shalala to announce her determination that syringe exchange programs reduce the risk of HIV transmission and do not increase the use of illegal drugs. There is ample research, including a report published by the Department of Health and Human Services last February, to support these two conclusions. The science is there; action is needed.

It is our hope that Secretary Shalala will make such an announcement before Congress returns in January, when political rhetoric surrounding this issue may re-escalate and threaten to overwhelm the voice of science. The sooner the determination is made, the sooner other preparations can be made for Secretary Shalala to make federal funds available for these programs.



Contact (phone, fax, or letter) Secretary Shalala. Ask her to make a determination that syringe exchange programs can be effective in combating HIV transmission and do not increase illegal drug use. Remind her that scientific evidence supports these conclusions. Tell her that the time for such an announcement is now.

Write: Donna E. Shalala
Secretary of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave., S.W., Rm. 615F
Washington, DC 20201

Call: (202) 690-7000

Fax: (202) 690-7203

President Clinton Launches "Until It's Over e-March"

President Bill Clinton will be the first featured speaker to kick-off the e-March on World AIDS Day 1997! Your participation continues to be critical to the success of this event: announce the e-March in your community, bookmark the site (, and get ready to "click e-March" on December 1.

For more information, contact:
AIDS Action
Kurt Schade, Network Correspondent
1875 Connecticut Ave., Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009
phone: (202) 986-1300, ext. 3060
fax: (202) 986-1345

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
More on Needle Exchange Programs