Editorials Address Needle-Exchange Program Policies of Bush Administration, Some Members of Congress
Two newspapers recently examined the opposition of the Bush administration and some members of Congress to needle-exchange programs as a way to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS. Summaries appear below:
New York Times: There are "moves in Congress and inside the [Bush] administration" to bar the United States from funding any group that supports needle-exchange programs, a policy change that would be a "deadly mistake," a Times editorial states. Creating needle exchanges as a way to fight HIV transmission "is endorsed by virtually every mainstream public health group," but opponents of such programs "argue that the practice muddies the message that illegal drug use is unacceptable and keeps drug abusers from suffering the consequences of their addiction," according to the editorial. Using this "twisted logic," some conservatives are attempting to stop the federal government from providing funding to groups that "use other people's money to administer needle exchanges," the editorial states, adding that such attempts are a "triumph of ideology over science, logic and compassion." In parts of Asia and Eastern Europe, "needles are a major source of [HIV] infection," and "[t]hese are just the places where the AIDS epidemic is likely to explode next," according to the Times. The United States "should help pay for these important programs," and if "it cannot bring itself to do so, it should at least allow the rest of the world to get on with saving millions of lives," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 2/26).
- Washington Post: In attempting to "quietly exten[d] a policy that undermines the global battle against AIDS," the Bush administration is saying that the evidence "for the effectiveness of needle exchange is shaky" and "claiming scientific evidence" supporting its own position "that doesn't exist," a Post editorial states. In fact, research cited by the Bush administration in support of its position demonstrates the opposite, according to the studies' authors, and "[e]vidence that the administration does not cite leaves little doubt about the case for needle exchange," according to the editorial. "Respecting science does not appear to be the administration's priority," and in addition to "refusing to spend federal dollars on needle exchange," it also is "waging a campaign to persuade the United Nations to toe its misguided line," the editorial states. "The State Department's new leadership needs to end this bullying flat-earthism" because it will not "help President Bush's current effort to relaunch his image among allies" and "it's almost certain to kill people," the editorial concludes (Washington Post, 2/27).
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