Congress Must Allow States, Washington, D.C., To Fund Needle-Exchange Programs, Editorial Says
Congress "must insist" that Washington, D.C., is allowed to fund needle-exchange programs to prevent the spread of HIV and must pass measures that allow states and health organizations to use federal funds for such programs, a New York Times editorial says (New York Times, 2/23). President Bush earlier this month released his $3.1 trillion fiscal year 2009 budget proposal, which attempts to reinstate a ban on city funding for needle-exchange programs in the district (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/5). The ban was effectively lifted when Bush signed the FY 2008 omnibus spending bill (HR 2764).
The district plans to invest $650,000 in needle-exchange programs to help prevent the spread of HIV among injection drug users in the city, officials announced last month. Since 1999 the district had been the only U.S. city barred by federal law from using local funds for needle-exchange programs. A report released in November 2007 by district health officials found that injection drug use was the second most common cause of HIV transmission in the city (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3).
"Needle-exchange programs save lives" by reducing the spread of HIV, the editorial says, adding, "Yet when it comes to supporting these programs, it seems that the political cowardice never ends." The editorial says, "Now that Washington has a chance to fight back, the White House must not be allowed to hobble that effort" (New York Times, 2/23).