June 17, 2010
The Global AIDS Roundtable is collecting organizational sign-ons for a letter urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to release U.S. funding for international syringe exchange programs before the International AIDS Conference in July. We need as many U.S.-based organizations as possible to really exert pressure.
Urgent: Deadline is Wednesday, June 23rd
To sign on as an organization, please send the following information to Paola Barahona at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ban on federal funding for syringe exchange, put in place under President Clinton, prohibited the use of U.S. funding for these desperately need HIV and viral hepatitis prevention programs around the globe. Activists rejoiced when the ban was finally lifted last December. But the guidance needed in order to release the funds under PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has been delayed by the State Department under Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Please join the Global AIDS Roundtable in urging Secretary Clinton to release the PEPFAR guidance, and to finally reverse the U.S. funding ban's devastating impact on the global AIDS pandemic.
The Sign-on letter is below.
Dear Secretary Clinton,
We are concerned that the State Department has yet to release updated guidance for HIV prevention among injection users. Last December, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) released a new Five-Year Strategy for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that underscored the importance of establishing prevention priorities necessary to combat the epidemic. Around the same time, Congress voted to allow federal funding for syringe exchange programs (SEPs) in the US, underscoring the importance of evidence-based prevention programming. Despite clear statements from the Administration in support of syringe exchange as part of a comprehensive program, domestic and international programs are still prohibited from using federal funds for one of the most effective HIV prevention tools.
Outside sub-Saharan Africa one third of new HIV infections are due to injection drug use. In countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Vietnam and China, more than half of infections are due to injection drug use. By implementing syringe exchange, some countries, like Britain, Australia and France avoided large-scale epidemics. A review of data from 81 cities across Europe, Asia, and North America with and without SEPs found that, on average, HIV infection increased by 5.9 percent per year in the 52 cities without SEPs and decreased by 5.8 percent per year in the 29 cities with SEPs. This represents an 11 percent net difference in seroprevalence when comparing cities with and without SEPs. Programs could, right now, prevent thousands of new HIV infections at very little cost.
The upcoming International AIDS Conference in Vienna will have a special focus on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union where injection drug use is the cause of one of the world's fastest growing HIV epidemics. As the single largest donor for HIV/AIDS programs around the world, the United States will be in the spotlight. We urge you to release guidance that embraces syringe exchange in advance of that event.