[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
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.
and let us know what you hear back!
Harm Reduction Coalition
1440 Broadway, Suite 510
Oakland, CA 94612