‘About Time’ for Advocacy Groups To Support Federal Funding of Needle-Exchange Programs, Editorial Says
It is "about time" the NAACP, National Urban League and other "black-oriented" advocacy groups "threw their support behind federal funding for needle-exchange programs," a Detroit Free Press editorial says (Detroit Free Press, 2/13).
The NAACP, NUL and other groups on Feb. 7 -- National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day -- called on Congress to repeal a 20-year-old ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs. Injection drug use contributes to one-third of new HIV cases in the U.S., and it accounts for a higher proportion of HIV cases among blacks compared with whites. According to federal figures, blacks comprised 13% of the U.S. population but accounted for about half of new HIV/AIDS cases in 2005. Despite the ban on federal funding, more than 200 needle-exchange programs have been established nationwide -- including in Washington, D.C., and New Jersey -- in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV among injection drug users (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/7).
The Free Press says the government should "acknowledge reality" and fund needle-exchange programs, as well as prevention and treatment programs for injection drug users. According to the editorial, not all IDUs "are going to be reached by treatment," and needle-exchange programs can keep IDUs "safer from HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other problems." The editorial concludes that needle-exchange programs are an "important reality-based form" of HIV prevention (Detroit Free Press, 2/13).