Needle Exchange

RSS Feed for this category

A Life and Death Issue

You Can Make a Difference

Dear friends,

Several months ago my colleague Naomi Long and I had an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for a repeal of the federal prohibition that blocks states from using their share of HIV/AIDS prevention money on syringe exchange programs. We had a hard-hitting conclusion: “As many as 300,000 Americans could contract HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C over the next decade because of a lack of access to sterile syringes. This essentially makes the national syringe ban a death sentence for drug users, their partners and children.”

Take action now to support a bill in Congress that would repeal the ban.

Last year my colleague Jasmine Tyler lost her father to HIV/AIDS that he contracted from injection drug use and it really hit our D.C. office hard. She had this to share: “From the time he found out he was HIV-positive until the day he died in April of 2007, he suffered greatly and so did our family.  Every day I know that the hell he lived through could have been avoided if only he had had access to sterile needles all the time.  It’s too late to bring him back, but every other life that can be saved should be.”

While our country spends billions of dollars on efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases, the U.S. prohibits the use of prevention funds to support syringe exchange programs. This robs cities, states and private organizations of the right to do what’s best for the people, and costs taxpayers a lot of money. It’s far cheaper to distribute syringes and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis than it is to treat people who contract those infectious diseases after it's too late.

Last year, District of Columbia Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and New York Congressman Jose Serrano successfully repealed a federal ban that prohibited D.C. from spending its own budget money on syringe exchange programs. This week Rep. Serrano introduced a bill that would repeal the national syringe funding ban. If enacted, it could save hundreds of thousands of lives and millions in taxpayer dollars. Please urge your representative to support this urgent, life-saving bill.

Take action now.

Want to do more? Set up a meeting with your representative when he or she is in your district during Congress's August recess. Learn how.

Sincerely,

Bill Piper
Director of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance

More Information

--According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 415,193 people reported to be living with AIDS in the United States at the end of 2004, about 30 percent of cases are related to injection drug use, either directly (sharing contaminated syringes) or indirectly (having sex with someone who used a contaminated syringe or being born to a mother who used a contaminated syringe).

--Each year, approximately 12,000 Americans contract HIV/AIDS directly or indirectly from the sharing of dirty syringes. About 17,000 people contract hepatitis C.
 
--The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences, American Public Health Association, and numerous other scientific bodies have found that syringe exchange programs are highly effective at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. Moreover, seven federal reports have found that increasing access to sterile syringes saves lives without increasing drug use.

--Increasing the availability of sterile syringes through exchange programs, pharmacies and other outlets reduces unsafe injection practices such as syringe sharing, curtails transmission of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, increases safe disposal of used syringes, and helps injection drug users obtain drug education and treatment.

--The lifetime cost of treating just one person who contracts HIV/AIDS can be as high as $600,000. This cost is often borne by taxpayers. In contrast, syringe exchange programs can prevent thousands of new HIV/AIDS cases at very little cost. Funding syringe exchange programs saves both lives and taxpayer money.

--A federal appropriations rider in the annual Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies spending bill prohibits states from spending their share of federal prevention money on syringe exchange programs. H.R. 6680 would repeal that provision.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Harm Reduction: Bill to End Federal Needle Exchange Ban Filed

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) and 25 cosponsors filed a bill Wednesday that would remove all restrictions on the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs (NEPs). The bill, the Community AIDS and Hepatitis Prevention (CAHP) Act of 2008 (H.R. 6680) is aimed at reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases that may be transmitted through infected syringes, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/needle-exchange-logo.gif
widely-used syringe exchange graphic
NEPs have been proven to reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases, and there are now about 185 legal NEPs operating in the US. But since 1988, when the first legal NEP was approved, Congress has barred the use of any federal funds for such programs. While about half of NEPs receive some state or local funding, the federal ban means the cash-starved programs are blocked from accessing a major potential funding source.

The CAHP Act is endorsed by a more than a hundred HIV/AIDS, hep C, and other public policy groups. They have been pushing for more than a year to get the ban lifted. The Harm Reduction Coalition was one of the groups welcoming Serrano's bill.

"The Harm Reduction Coalition applauds Rep. Serrano's leadership in taking on the outdated and harmful federal funding ban", said Allan Clear, the group's executive director. "The federal funding ban has resulted in tens of thousands of needless HIV and hepatitis C infections. We know that syringe exchange works -- it's time for Congress to pave the way, and give communities the flexibility to use their federal HIV prevention dollars according to their own needs and priorities."

TAKE ACTION: National Call-In to Repeal the Federal Ban on Syringe Exchange

[Courtesy of Harm Reduction Coalition] TAKE ACTION: National Call-In to Repeal the Federal Ban on Syringe Exchange In an important triumph for health advocates, Congress recently lifted the ban on the use of local tax dollars for syringe exchange in Washington DC. Now is the time to end the overall federal ban on funding syringe exchange, and we need everyone's help this week. Please join a national call-in to your Representative, asking them to demonstrate their support by signing onto a letter to House leadership. This is the first action in Congress in a decade to lift the ban, and we need to make a strong showing. One third of HIV infections in the United States are related to injection drug use. The 20-year federal funding ban curtails local communities from using their prevention dollars as they see fit to support this effective intervention. What you can do: Go to www.house.gov to find out who represents you. Find out how they voted on allowing Washington DC to lift the ban on using local tax dollars to support their syringe exchange programs. A 'nay' vote is good. It means they support the District using its own funds to conduct needle exchange. Now we need them to authorize the use of federal funding for all states. An 'aye' vote means they need extra education on the issue. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2007-589 Call up your US Representative's DC office (U.S. Congress switchboard at 1-800-828-0498, or 202-224-3121) and ask to speak to their Health staffer. Ask them to sign the bipartisan 'Dear Colleague' letter circulating by Reps Cummings (D-MD) and Castle (R-DE). If they already have, thank them! For a copy to send them go to www.harmreduction.org/article.php?id=766 Suggested message: Local communities should decide how best to fight the spread of HIV. Syringe exchanges are proven to help reduce HIV infection and also provide important links to drug treatment. It's time to lift the federal ban on syringe exchange funding. Will [xx member] sign the Cummings/Castle letter? Other key talking points: INJECTION-RELATED HIV One third of people with HIV in the United States were infected through injection drug use. Every year, another 8,000 people are newly infected with HIV through sharing contaminated syringes. THESE INFECTIONS ARE PREVENTABLE In communities where access to sterile syringes is supported, transmission of HIV in injecting drug users has declined as a proportion of all cases by mode of transmission. Decreases have also been documented among the sex partners and children of injection drug users. SYRINGE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS ARE HIGHLY COST-EFFECTIVE The lifetime cost of medical care for each new HIV infection is $385,200; the equivalent amount of money spent on syringe exchange programs would prevent at least 30 new HIV infections. SYRINGE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS INCREASE ACCESS TO DRUG TREATMENT & MEDICAL CARE In addition to the reduced risks for disease, sterile syringe access programs facilitate greater access to drug treatment. These programs also provide a crucial entry point into medical care, detox and rehabilitation, and mental health treatment. NEARLY 200 SYRINGE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS currently operate in 38 states, Puerto Rico, Washington DC, and Indian Lands. Most operate on a shoestring, surviving on dwindling private donations and severe restrictions of public funding. THE MEDICAL AND SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY SUPPORT SYRINGE EXCHANGE Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Academy of Sciences show that syringe exchange programs are effective. Programs have the support of the medical community, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association SYRINGE EXCHANGES GET DIRTY NEEDLES OFF THE STREETS Research demonstrates that the presence of a syringe exchange program results in fewer used syringes improperly discarded. . In Baltimore, after an SEP was implemented, the number of inappropriately discarded syringes decreased by almost 50%. . In Portland, the number of discarded syringes decreased by almost two-thirds after the NEP opened. . In 1992, Connecticut repealed a law forbidding the sale of syringes without a prescription. As a result, reports show a reduction in needle sharing by 50 percent and a decrease in HIV infections by over 30 percent. In addition, law enforcement officials experienced two-thirds fewer needle stick injuries. Email hrcwest@harmreduction.org and let us know what you hear back! Hilary McQuie Western Director Harm Reduction Coalition 1440 Broadway, Suite 510 Oakland, CA 94612 Tel: 510-444-6969 Fax: 510-444-6977 www.harmreduction.org mcquie@harmreduction.org
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

HRC Alert: Getting Congress Hip to Hep in May

[Courtesy of Harm Reduction Coalition] 

Dear Supporter,

Take Action to Repeal the Federal Ban on Syringe Exchange, Increase Hepatitis Prevention

Momentum is building to end the 20 year ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange programs, but now we need heat. HRC has initiated a campaign designed to build the pressure in Washington DC and provide an opportunity for syringe exchange advocates to work for what we believe in. Keep in mind Franklin D. Roosevelt's response to a reform delegation, "Okay, you've convinced me.  Now go on out and bring pressure on me!"  Action comes from keeping the heat on.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

1. Organize a district-level meeting - Call up your US Representative's local office and arrange a meeting in May to talk to them about syringe exchange and the need to lift the federal ban. Download talking points, materials to leave behind, and ask them to take a stand and co-sign a 'Dear Colleague' letter from members of Congress to House leadership.

2. Send a Letter to the Editor - May 19 is World Hepatitis Awareness Day! Submit an op-ed or a letter to the editor this week to bring attention to the end for syringe exchange expansion through ending the federal ban. For addesses , please click here. Be sure to also send it to your Congressional representatives.

3. Demystify! Impress! Hold accountable! If you work at a syringe exchange program, consider inviting your US Congressperson &/or their staff to your site. Show 'em how much you do on how little funding.  Tell them what you would do with sufficient funding.

4. Let us know what you hear back - Email hrcwest@harmreduction.org and keep us in touch.

Harm Reduction: San Antonio Needle Exchange Program Not To Be, Texas Attorney General Says Would Violate State Law

A state-sanctioned needle exchange program envisioned for Bexar County (greater San Antonio) under legislation passed last year will not happen -- at least not this year. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Monday issued an opinion saying that state drug laws blocked the program from moving forward.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/nline.gif
popular syringe exchange logo
The needle exchange program was envisioned to help slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C among injection drugs users and would have been the first official program in Texas, which is the only state in the nation without one. The law was scheduled to take effect last September, but was put on hold after Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed raised objections in August, saying that it would be illegal to conduct such a program because, in her opinion, the law was defective. That sparked State Senator Jeff Wentworth's request for an attorney general's opinion.

In addition to blocking the needle exchange program, the attorney general's opinion also opens the way to the vindictive prosecution of Bill Day, a 73-year-old AIDS sufferer who was ticketed along with two other people earlier this year for passing out clean needles. District Attorney Reed, a Republican who has warned she would arrest anyone trying to hand out needles, stayed Day's case pending Abbott's opinion, but is now likely to move forward with it.

While Day faces up to a year in jail if convicted of violating Texas drug paraphernalia laws, that's unlikely, First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg told the Dallas Morning News. "Nobody expects that Mr. Day will go to jail," said Herberg. "If people think that he's well-intentioned, that's a punishment issue, not a guilt or innocence issue."

In his opinion, Abbott wrote the law passed last year was not written clearly enough to protect needle exchange participants from prosecution because it said only that the county health department "may" set up a needle exchange, not that it "will" set one up. While the legislature may have intended to set up a program, it needs to redraft the law to fix the language, he said.

Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio), the legislation's main sponsor, vowed to make fixing it one of her top priorities next year. "Obviously, I am terribly disappointed," she told the Morning News. "The outcome [with the needle exchange] would have been much more effective in saving thousands of lives and saving millions of taxpayer dollars at the same time."

Harm Reduction: More Than 300,000 HIV/AIDS Cases Linked to Injection Drug Use

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300,000 people have been infected with the HIV/AIDS virus through injection drug use. That is roughly 30% of all the slightly more than one million cases reported in the US since the disease first appeared on the radar in the early 1980s. The figures are contained in Table 3 of the CDC's latest HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, covering cases through 2006.

According to the report, more than 170,000 men and nearly 75,000 women contracted the virus through sharing dirty needles. Another 68,000 men contracted the virus through a combination of injection drug use and male-to-male sexual contact.

If there is any good news on the HIV/AIDS drug injection front, it is that the percentage of new cases linked to injection drug use appears to be dropping. While over the history of the epidemic, roughly 30% of all cases are linked to needle-sharing, in 2006 that number was only 17%.

Still, that means that more than 3,000 men and more than 1,700 women contracted the virus in 2006 through injection drug use. Nearly 1,200 more men contracted the virus through a combination of needle-sharing and male-to-male sex.

Needle exchange and other programs designed to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS currently operate in around 200 US localities, but despite their proven record in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, they continue to face hostility in some communities and from some state and local officials. Under an amendment offered by then Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX), the federal government is prohibited from spending federal funds on needle exchange programs. Both remaining Democratic Party presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton (NY) and Barack Obama (IL), have called for an end to that ban.

An End to Ideology Over Science: New Approaches to Lifting the Ban on Federal Funding of Syringe Exchange

The Harm Reduction Coalition in partnership with CHAMP (Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project), The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center and TAG (Treatment Action Group) are co-sponsoring this event. Syringe exchange is one of the most validated methods for preventing HIV. And as volumes of research so clearly demonstrate, it can also provide a bridge to health care, drug treatment and other services for people who are stigmatized and marginalized. But due to the efforts of Senator Jesse Helms and his allies twenty years ago, Federal funds cannot be used for syringe exchange programs – and the ban remains in effect up to the present day. Why are we still stuck with this ban, and who can lift it? Could this happen readily under a new administration or will it remain an uphill battle? How are advocates across the country escalating their efforts to triumph after years of willful ignorance and distortion? Last year the House of Representatives finally allowed local government funds to be used for syringe exchange in Washington, DC. This is a positive step forward, but many people would like to see needle exchange funded at the federal level. The panel, moderated by James Learned of CHAMP, consists of Paola Barahona, Physicians for Human Rights (formerly of PreventionWorks!), Louie Jones from VOCAL (Voices of Community Advocates and Leaders), and Daniel Raymond of the Harm Reduction Coalition. They will be discussing the insights gleaned from the D.C. victory and ways to roll back this nationwide injustice once and for all. For more information see http://www.harmreduction.org/article.php?id=733, or to be added as a co-sponsor, please contact James at jlearned@champnetwork.org or call (212) 937-7955 x 60.
Date: 
Wed, 03/12/2008 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: 
208 West 13th Street (Between 7th & 8th Avenues)
New York, NY
United States

Religious Leaders Urge Congress to Expand Access to Clean Needles for Drug Users

Recently Congress lifted a ban on local funding for needle exchange in the District of Columbia. Now scholars and spokespersons from a variety of denominations will converge in the nation’s capital to urge Congress to help save lives by repealing the national ban that prohibits states from using their share of federal HIV/AIDS prevention money on needle exchange programs. They will explain their position and be available for questions from the media. The scientific evidence is irrefutable that needle exchange saves lives without increasing drug use. But many politicians say that it’s still “just wrong” to provide clean needles to drug users. It’s time for moral clarification. Please join the following people at this important event: * Mary Jo Iozzio, Ph.D., serves on the executive board of the Society of Christian Ethics -- comprised of nearly 1,000 ethics professors -- which adopted a resolution in 2000 to "encourage the development of needle exchange programs.” Dr. Iozzio is a professor of Moral Theology at Barry University in Florida and an active member of the Catholic Theological Society of America. * William Martin, M.Div., Ph.D., is a senior fellow for Religion and Public Policy at the James Baker Institute at Rice University and a member of the Covenant Baptist Church in Houston. Dr. Martin wrote the authoritative biography of the Rev. Billy Graham. * John B. Johnson represents the Episcopal Church as a Domestic Policy Analyst in the denomination’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C. * Rev. Michael T. Bell, D.Min., is an African-American minister serving as the senior pastor at Peace Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. *Charles Thomas is the executive director of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative (IDPI), a national organization of clergy and other people of faith advocating for compassionate policies to reduce the problems associated with drugs. Thomas will provide details about the positions of other denominations supporting needle exchange, including the Union for Reform Judaism; Presbyterian Church USA; United Church of Christ; and Unitarian Universalist Association. * Naomi Long represents the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's largest organization advocating for drug policies grounded in reason, compassion and justice, and is a member of the executive board of Prevention Works, Washington, D.C.’s local needle exchange program. All of the speakers will also be available for subsequent phone interviews, which can be arranged by e-mailing CharlesThomas@idpi.us or calling 301-938-1577.
Date: 
Mon, 03/03/2008 - 2:00pm
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Media Advisory: Religious Leaders to Urge Congress to Expand Access to Clean Needles for Drug Users

Media Advisory: February 29, 2008 CONTACT: Bill Piper, Drug Policy Alliance at 202-669-6430 or Charles Thomas, Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative at 301-938-1577 Religious Leaders to Urge Congress to Expand Access to Clean Needles for Drug Users Preserving Life is a Moral Imperative; Congress Should Allow States to Use Federal Funding for Needle Exchange Programs WHEN: Monday, March 3, at 2:00 p.m. WHERE: U.S. Capitol Building, room HC-6 Capitol (House side), Washington, D.C. WHAT: Recently Congress lifted a ban on local funding for needle exchange in the District of Columbia. Now scholars and spokespersons from a variety of denominations will converge in the nation’s capital to urge Congress to help save lives by repealing the national ban that prohibits states from using their share of federal HIV/AIDS prevention money on needle exchange programs. They will explain their position and be available for questions from the media. WHY: The scientific evidence is irrefutable that needle exchange saves lives without increasing drug use. But many politicians say that it’s still “just wrong” to provide clean needles to drug users. It’s time for moral clarification. WHO: * Mary Jo Iozzio, Ph.D., serves on the executive board of the Society of Christian Ethics -- comprised of nearly 1,000 ethics professors -- which adopted a resolution in 2000 to "encourage the development of needle exchange programs.” Dr. Iozzio is a professor of Moral Theology at Barry University in Florida and an active member of the Catholic Theological Society of America. * William Martin, M.Div., Ph.D., is a senior fellow for Religion and Public Policy at the James Baker Institute at Rice University and a member of the Covenant Baptist Church in Houston. Dr. Martin wrote the authoritative biography of the Rev. Billy Graham. * John B. Johnson represents the Episcopal Church as a Domestic Policy Analyst in the denomination’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C. * Rev. Michael T. Bell, D.Min., is an African-American minister serving as the senior pastor at Peace Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. *Charles Thomas is the executive director of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative (IDPI), a national organization of clergy and other people of faith advocating for compassionate policies to reduce the problems associated with drugs. Thomas will provide details about the positions of other denominations supporting needle exchange, including the Union for Reform Judaism; Presbyterian Church USA; United Church of Christ; and Unitarian Universalist Association. * Naomi Long represents the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's largest organization advocating for drug policies grounded in reason, compassion and justice, and is a member of the executive board of Prevention Works, Washington, D.C.’s local needle exchange program. All of the speakers will also be available for subsequent phone interviews, which can be arranged by e-mailing CharlesThomas@idpi.us or calling 301-938-1577.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Capitol Hill Reception Celebrating the Lifting of the DC Syringe Exchange Funding Ban

Please join Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and friends for a special Capitol Hill reception to celebrate the lifting of the DC syringe exchange funding ban and thank the policymakers and advocates who made this victory possible. The official program begins promptly at 5:30 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be provided. Please RSVP by February 11 to Christy at dclegalintern@aidsaction.org.
Date: 
Wed, 02/13/2008 - 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School