Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Author: Robert Heimer
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Regarding the June 29 Metro article "House Repeals Needle Ban":

The repeal of the ban on funding for the District's needle exchange 
program brings up a bigger issue: access to clean needles for the 
rest of the world. A federal ban prohibits the United States from 
supplying clean needles, even to countries with huge HIV-AIDS 
epidemics caused by needle-sharing among drug users.

There is no time to waste. In an epidemic fueled by intravenous drug 
use, transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus is so rapid 
that weeks and months make a difference.

In Vietnam, the virus is racing through the most vulnerable groups 
and threatens to break out into the general population.

The United States spent $34 million on HIV-AIDS in Vietnam last year, 
but not on the strategy that might help the most.

The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief must embrace a 
science-based approach to preventing HIV infection -- including clean 
needles, methadone therapy, outreach and education -- if it is to 
help Asian and Eastern European countries stop this crippling epidemic.

Robert Heimer

Adviser, Health Action AIDS Campaign

Physicians for Human Rights

New Haven, Conn.
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