December 13, 2009
Syringe exchange programs -- including this mobile site in New York City -- will now be able to use federal funds to support their lifesaving work.
New York, NY -- amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, applauded Congress for lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs as part of appropriations legislation passed today by the Senate.
"We're thrilled that Congress has taken this crucial step to promote effective, evidence-based HIV prevention policy," said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. "Once President Obama signs this bill and the ban has been lifted, local governments and agencies will have more flexibility and be better equipped to combat HIV transmission in their communities."
"Availability of federal funds for syringe exchange is particularly urgent given that many states are facing budget woes and are making severe cutbacks in health funding," Frost said. He cited the contributions of U.S. Representative David Obey (D-WI), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, for championing removal of the ban on funding syringe exchange. "Chairman Obey's leadership and the support of Speaker Pelosi have been crucial to removal of the ban," Frost said.
The $446.8 billion FY2010 spending package includes $31.0 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a $691.8 million (2.3 percent) increase over the FY2009 level, and $250 million more than President Obama's request. The new appropriations bill also provides $5.4 billion for bilateral AIDS funding and $1.05 billion for the Global Fund -- levels only minimally increased from last year.
Representative David Obey provided key leadership in championing the removal of the ban.
"We applaud this historic step to remove the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange," said Chris Collins, amfAR's Vice President and Director of Public Policy, "but we are disappointed with the relatively minor increases in AIDS and health research and global AIDS programming."
"The funding levels in this bill represent a significant slowdown in expansion of global AIDS services," Collins said. "That's a tragedy given the millions in need of treatment and the opportunity we have to build out from AIDS programming to address broader health needs. Moving forward, amfAR will be working with our allies in Congress and the community to achieve the highest possible funding for AIDS and health research and domestic and global AIDS programming."