Obama Disappoints AIDS Activists
May 19, 2009
President Obama has called for repealing a ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs (NEPs), and so AIDS advocates were stunned to find his 2009-10 budget proposal would continue the prohibition.
"I think the Obama administration wants to repeal the syringe ban," said Bill Piper, national affairs director of the Drug Policy Alliance. He noted Obama's drug policy director, Gil Kerlikowske, supported needle exchange during his confirmation hearing and prevented police interference in NEPs in Seattle as that city's police chief. Obama's Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, sponsored New York City's first NEP as its health commissioner in the early 1990s. The administration has shown "moral leadership on the issue, but they need to show political leadership," Kerlikowske said.
Obama "is looking forward to working with Congress and the American people to build support for this change, and his administration is committed to moving forward to address the federal ban on syringe exchange programs as a part of the national HIV/AIDS strategy," said Jeffrey Crowley, Obama's national AIDS policy director. However, Crowley did not say why the budget would continue the ban.
San Francisco spends $900,000 annually on NEPs, which are operated by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and other contractors, said Dr. Grant Colfax, the city's HIV prevention director. NEPs have "prevented a huge HIV epidemic in the injection-drug-using population" and possibly HIV's spread to their partners, he said.
San Francisco Chronicle
05.11.2009; Bob Egelko
"Swift Action Driven by Courage Needed" to Remove Ban on Federal Funding for Needle-Exchange Programs, Letter to Editor Says
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.