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 (www.aidsaction.org), and get ready to "click e-March" on December 1.
For more information, contact:
Kurt Schade, Network Correspondent
1875 Connecticut Ave., Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009
phone: (202) 986-1300, ext. 3060
fax: (202) 986-1345