More Needs To Be Done To Curb Spread Of HIV

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Del.Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) "should becongratulated for accomplishing last year what many said was impossible:repealing the federal ban prohibiting" Washington, D.C., from"spending its own money" on needle-exchange programs to curb thespread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases, Naomi Long, director of the Drug Policy Alliance's Washington office, and BillPiper, the alliance's director of national affairs, write in a Washington Post opinion piece. The district"recently announced that it would invest $650,000 in needle-exchangeprograms to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS," the authors write. They addthat the "city should be applauded for this move" because it is a"major investment toward the creation of a comprehensive continuum of careof drug users that includes getting people into drug treatment and linking themto medical care, rapid HIV counseling and testing, and a comprehensivemedication adherence program."

However, "more needs to be done," Long and Piper write, adding thatthe district "should amend its paraphernalia laws to make clean syringesmore accessible through pharmacies, increase the number of beds in local detoxcenters and increase the length of stay for drug treatment clinics." Inaddition, city officials should "make good on their promise to improve HIVtesting practices, counseling and comprehensive treatment for people in theD.C. jail."

Congressalso should "repeal the national funding ban that prohibits cities fromusing their share of federal AIDS prevention money" on needle-exchangeprograms, the authors write. According to Long and Piper, up to 300,000 U.S. residents"could contract HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C over the next decade because of alack of access to sterile syringes." They write that this figure"essentially makes the national syringe ban a death sentence for drugusers, their partners and children," concluding, "Members of Congresscould spare their lives by repealing the ban. The question is, willthey?" (Long/Piper, Washington Post, 1/27).

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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