January 12, 2016 04:27 PM Eastern Standard Time
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today applauded Congress for partially lifting its longstanding ban on federal dollars being used to support needle exchange programs that have been proven to reduce the transmission of HIV and disease by allowing intravenous drug users to trade in used syringes for new, clean ones. Inserted as a provision in the omnibus spending bill signed by President Obama last month, the legislation, while still prohibiting federal dollars from directly purchasing syringes for needle exchanges, allows for federal funding to be used to support other costs related to these programs, including staff and educational outreach.
“We are pleased that concern for public health has trumped politics in this long-overdue move to allow federal funds to support needle exchange programs that have been studied and proven over the years to effectively prevent HIV, hepatitis and other infections among intravenous drug users,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “We must now work to get state and local governments to step up and pay for the clean syringes necessary to support these programs.”
The partial repeal of the ban—which was first enacted in 1988, lifted in 2009 and then reinstated in 2011—comes on the heels of a recent HIV and hepatitis C outbreak in southeastern Indiana that was linked to intravenous drug use. Efforts to end the ban were reportedly led by Appropriations Chairman Congressman Hal Rogers and backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans from Kentucky, and Appropriations Committee member Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).