D.C. Allowed To Provide Clean Needles To Addicts


The House yesterday lifted a nine-year-old ban on using Washington, D.C., tax dollars to provide clean needles to drug addicts, reports the Washington Post. The vote gives city leaders what they consider a crucial weapon against a severe AIDS epidemic. The White House opposed lifting the ban, as did many Republicans and some Democrats. Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) offered an amendment to restore it, saying needle-exchange programs “merely subsidize heroin use.” That amendment was defeated 216 to 208.

D.C. Health Director Gregg Pane said his department would commit $1 million toward needle-exchange programs for 2008. Advocates say providing clean needles to addicts lessens the chance that they will share dirty ones, potentially passing on HIV and other blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis. Intravenous drug users make up about one-third of Washington’s new AIDS cases annually.

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/28/AR2007062801878.html?hpid=topnews

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