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AIDS Action Praises Miss America's Needle Conversion

Kate Shindle wins the "Courage Competition" after newfound support of needle exchange programs

October 9, 1997

Washington, DC -- AIDS Action today named Kate Shindle the winner of the Miss America "Courage Competition" for changing her position and supporting needle exchange programs that prevent HIV transmission among intravenous drug users.

"She may have already won the crown, but today Kate Shindle won the Courage Competition," said Daniel Zingale, AIDS Action's Executive Director. "Kate Shindle today shattered every ugly stereotype about Miss America. By investigating this life-saving issue and demonstrating a willingness to change, Miss America proves herself a young leader of substance and importance."

In a Washington Post article dated September 14, Miss Shindle said, "I don't endorse needle exchanges because they really sort of break the law. I do support teaching people how to clean needles and educating people on how to start protecting themselves. But as far as giving needles to the public, I'm not in support of that."

Today at the launch of her AIDS prevention campaign, Miss America said she now supports needle exchange programs. Her change of view came after AIDS Action and others began an intensive effort to inform her of the facts about these programs. Zingale as well as AIDS Action senior policy staff met with Miss America several times to educate her about this issue.

"It is more than understandable to be uncomfortable with needle exchange programs at first glance. After learning the facts and hearing the voice of the medical and legal establishment, there's no rationale for opposing needle exchange programs," added Zingale. "Winning the war on AIDS requires genuine acts of courage; Miss America today is leading the battle with valor."

Needle exchange programs have been proven to reduce HIV infection among intravenous drug users without increasing drug use. These programs have the support of the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Bar Association and other organizations.

Contact: Steve Fisher
(202) 986-1300, Ext. 3065

# # #

AIDS Action is the nation's leading AIDS advocacy organization, representing all Americans affected by HIV/AIDS and over 2,000 community-based organizations that serve them.

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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



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