Media Awareness Project



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #347 - Tuesday, 5 June 2007

On Monday, the editorial board of the New York Times sternly denounced the U.S. Congress because of a law that does not allow Washington, D.C. to use city funds to support needle exchange programs.

The objections raised are the same tired and indefensible hooey that runs counter to esteemed medical and public health advice worldwide.

Please consider writing and sending a Letter to the Editor to the New York Times commending them for their stand. You may personalize your letter to share testimony about yourself, someone you know or perhaps the community where you live and why you endorse increased public health and safety.

Perhaps a fact from this webpage could be the core of your letter

Letters to the New York Times must be 150 words or less for publication. They must also be exclusive to the Times. So please don't send a copy of a letter which has been printed elsewhere.

Please also contact your members of Congress about this issue. To find out how to contact them go to

Thanks for your effort and support.

It's not what others do it's what YOU do

Additional suggestions for writing LTEs are at our Media Activism Center:

Or contact MAP Media Activism Facilitator Steve Heath for personal tips on how to write LTEs that get printed.


Pubdate: Mon, 04 Jun 2007

Source: New York Times (NY)

Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company


Washington, D.C., is one of America's AIDS hot spots. A significant proportion of infections can be traced back to intravenous drug users who shared contaminated needles and then passed on the infection to spouses, lovers or unborn children.

This public health disaster is partly the fault of Congress. It has wrongly and disastrously used its power over the District of Columbia's budget to bar the city from spending even locally raised tax dollars on programs that have slowed the spread of disease by giving drug addicts access to clean needles.

Every state in the union allows some system for providing addicts with clean needles. But nearly a decade ago, ideologues in Congress who were unable to derail needle programs in their own states chose to grandstand on the issue when it came time to pass the District's appropriation bill. Barred from spending local tax dollars on these medically necessary programs, the city has limped along with a privately financed operation that turns away more people than it serves.

Critics offer the same know-nothing arguments. They say that handing out needles legitimizes drug use -- even though studies here and abroad showed long ago that the programs cut the infection rate without increasing addiction. They say that addicts should be offered treatment instead of clean needles -- even though addicts who want treatment must sometimes wait for months or even years to get in. While they wait, they continue to use drugs and become infected.

Congress's ban on even locally financed needle exchange programs in the District of Columbia is an insult to the city's voters and a clear hazard to public health. Ideologues, in the House in particular, need to get out of the way and let public health officials save lives.


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Prepared by: The MAP Media Activism


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