Federal Bill Clears Way for D.C. to Fund Needle Exchange
December 28, 2007
On Wednesday, President Bush signed an omnibus spending bill that also allows the District of Columbia to use its own money for needle exchange programs (NEPs). District officials welcomed the move reversing a nine-year ban, and said they will incorporate NEPs into city HIV prevention programs.
Since 1998, Congress has inserted language into spending packages that blocked the federal district from funding NEPs, which have had to rely on private financing. Washington has the worst AIDS rate of any US city, with about 128 cases per 100,000 residents, compared to a national 14 cases per 100,000 people, according to a D.C. report. About 20 percent of infections in the District are from intravenous drug users (IDUs) sharing needles, the city estimates.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said the city plans to devote about $1 million toward NEPs as part of its broader strategy to fight HIV/AIDS.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's congressional delegate, said the shift in Congress from a Republican to Democratic majority made eliminating the local ban possible.
"This program will save lives," said Jim Graham, a D.C. Council member and former head of a city HIV/AIDS clinic.
12.27.2007; Stephen Manning
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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.