This morning, Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, took the first step toward ending the 20-year-old ban on federal funding of syringe exchange. He removed the ban from the draft House Labor HHS spending bill he introduced to the subcommittee.In a prepared statement, Chairman Obey said:
Scientific studies have?documented that needle exchange programs, when implemented as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy,?are an effective public health intervention for reducing AIDS/HIV infections and do not promote drug use. The?judgment we make in this bill is that it is time to lift this ban and let State and local jurisdictions determine if?they want to pursue this approach.
Though this is the first of many steps, it is a critical one — one that has been a long time in coming. Denying someone a proven prevention strategy is to deny them their human rights. After 20 years, evidence and human rights are finally starting to overcome politics and ideology.We won the fight today, but the battle's far from over. The bill is scheduled to go to the full Appropriations Committee next Friday. If opposition to this provision arises, we are going to have to work quickly to stamp it out. We've got the evidence on our side and as a conservative member of Congress recently told PHR Staff,
If you can convince a knucklehead like me, you can convince anyone. ?Keep up the good work.
Keep your fingers crossed, and tune back in next week for an update. You can take action right now by calling your member of Congress at 202-224-3121 and tell them
Clean needles save lives. Support all efforts to lift the federal ban on needle exchange.
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