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Ding-Dong, the U.S. Needle Exchange Funding Ban Is Dead -- but the Struggle for Funds Will Continue, Advocates Say

By Olivia Ford

January 5, 2010

U.S. HIV/AIDS advocates and experts applauded the Dec. 2009 lifting of a 21-year-old ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs. "Congress has taken syringe exchange out of politics," said Daniel Raymond of Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC) in a detailed report by the HIV/AIDS organization Housing Works. Additionally, the HIV Medicine Association, an international group of HIV/AIDS medical professionals, touted the lifting of the ban as "a crucial, lifesaving step forward for HIV prevention." A proposed provision that would have blocked funds to most existing needle exchanges by virtue of their location was also eliminated, further elating advocates.

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However, despite the generally positive response, there was also some grumbling within the HIV/AIDS community. For instance, the lifting of the federal ban on needle exchange funding did not come with a guarantee of funds for such programs, according to Housing Works and others. "[I]n the short term, the immediate payoff will be modest and incremental," said HRC's Raymond of the ban's removal.

In addition, amid their praise for an end to the ban, officials with amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, expressed concern over what they deemed "relatively minor" increases for domestic and global HIV/AIDS funding in the federal government's 2010 budget.

The lifting of the federal needle exchange funding ban comes in the wake of a flurry of media coverage and congressional shuffling on the issue. Catch up on recent developments via TheBody.com's collection of news and research articles about needle exchanges in the U.S.




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