NYC Needle-Exchange Programs To Reduce Spread Of HIV

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Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton(D-D.C.) recently said that needle-exchange programs in Washington, D.C.,should receive public funding in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV, the AP/NBC4.comreports (AP/NBC4.com, 11/28). Norton's comments follow the release of a reportearlier in the week that called HIV/AIDS a "modern epidemic" in thedistrict with "complexities and challenges that continue to threaten thelives and well-being of far too many residents."

According to the report,almost 12,500 district residents were known to be living with HIV/AIDS in 2006.Thirty-seven percent of HIV cases were transmitted through heterosexualcontact, compared with 25% that were transmitted among men who have sex withmen (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/27).

According to Norton, the report did not mention a congressional ban thatprohibits the city from allocating public funds for needle-exchange programs.The ban likely will be overturned soon, the AP/NBC4.com reports. Although thereport did say that injection drug use was the second-most common mode of HIVtransmission in the city, it was "misleading" by focusing too much onsexual transmission of the virus, according to Norton (AP/NBC4.com, 11/28).

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Related Editorial

"Among the tragic data"in the report, the "statistic on" injection drug use is the"most infuriating" because needle-exchange programs -- the "toolneeded to slow transmission of HIV bythis route" -- are banned from receiving public funding, a Washington Post editorial says. Norton and Rep.Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) "succeeded in getting the ban eliminated" in aHouse appropriations bill earlier this year, the editorial says, adding thatthe district is "waiting for the Senate to approve on an omnibus spendingbill, which could happen next month." The "longer the district isdenied the freedom to use its own money to help its own residents, the morelives will be needlessly put at risk," the editorial concludes (WashingtonPost, 11/30).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.

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