Act Now: End Federal Funding Ban on Syringe Exchange Programs
March 21, 2012 by Andrea Levario, Senior Public Policy Advocate
As we told you back in December, House Republicans turned their backs on sound science when they reintroduced and passed legislation reinstating the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs (SEP). Today, HRC is joining with our partners in the HIV/AIDS community in a National Call to Action on Syringe Exchange.
Injection drug use (IDU) has directly and indirectly accounted for 36 percent of AIDS cases in the U.S. and 68 percent of current hepatitis C infections. By providing clean, sterile syringes in exchange for used ones, SEPs directly reduce the transmission of HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne infections frequently spread through sharing syringes. These programs are often one of a wide range of social services offered by organizations along with HIV testing and education, rehabilitation, and treatment for drug addiction. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that the incidence of HIV among intravenous drug users had decreased by 80 percent in the U.S. over a 20 year period in part due to SEPs. Currently, more than 32 states and the District of Columbia operate SEPs.
In 2009, understanding the importance of this scientifically-proven prevention tool, lawmakers removed the funding ban. But last year, ideology prevailed over science, and the fight against HIV/AIDS took a small step backward. President Obama - who has made strides to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by announcing and implementing a prevention-based National HIV/AIDS Strategy - included lifting the federal funding ban among his FY 2013 budget priorities.
Help us lift the ban! Call your Senators today and urge them to support scientifically-based prevention programs, and to lift the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs. Senators can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell the operator your state and you will be directed accordingly.
HRC Political Intern Andrew Zapfel contributed to this post.
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