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Bill Would Allow Federal Funding for Needle Exchange Programs

July 13, 2009

House Democrats on Friday as part of a spending measure to fund the Departments of Labor and HHS for fiscal year 2010, "unveiled legislation to lift a ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs, a shift to try to reduce [HIV infections] but one that will probably spark a fight," Reuters/Boston Globe reports (7/11). The ban has been included in the annual spending bill in previous years. House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) said, "Scientific studies have documented that needle exchange programs, when implemented as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy, are an effective public health intervention for reducing [HIV] infections and do not promote drug use" (Reuters, Pelofsky, 7/10). "The move is in keeping with a pledge [President] Obama made during the primaries to remove the prohibition on such funding, although the ban was carried in his budget request this year," CQ Today reports (Wolfe, 7/10). However, "Republicans are girding for a fight over the ban and lawmakers could try to restore it as the legislation moves through the House during the next two weeks," according to Reuters (7/10). The bill also addresses sex education and "appears to continue Democrats' slow march away from funding abstinence-only sex education," CQ reports (7/10).

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