Federal Funding for Needle Exchange Programs
Clark, Peter A.
Medical Science Monitor 2010 January; 16(1): PH1-PH13
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has affected millions across the globe. The sharing of needles, for reasons of economy or social relations, has become the most common mode of HIV transmission among injection drug users. Needle exchange programs, which provide many services in addition to the exchange of clean needles for contaminated needles, have proven effective in reducing HIV rates among injection drug users in their communities. Although these programs have proven to be one of the most effective strategies in the efforts to reduce HIV rates, there has been a federal ban on the use of federal money for needle exchange programs since 1989. This ban was introduced by Congress in accordance with the drug war ideology, a narrow and elusive plan to completely eradicate drug use in the United States. Although there are a significant number of government reports supporting needle exchange programs, including support from the CDC, American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health, it appears as If public health and the lives of others have become a secondary concern to strong federal policy on eradicating drug use. Lifting the federal ban would save the country millions of lives and billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Needle exchange programs should be an integral part of HIV prevention strategy, and are ethically imperative as well, restoring human dignity to the clients that so often need it.
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