Pubdate: Mon, 16 Dec 2013
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2013 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Erica Kuhlik


I would like to underscore Chris Beyrer's recent commentary calling 
for lifting the U.S. ban on use of federal funds for syringe services 
programs, or SSPs ("End the senseless syringe funding ban," Dec. 11).

SSPs benefit our communities by preventing new HIV infections, 
reducing needle stick injuries to law enforcement and saving taxpayer 
dollars. The SSP in Baltimore alone has served over 14,000 injection 
drug users and referred about 2,300 SSP users to treatment programs 
in its first 12 years of operation. By safely disposing of used (and 
potentially contaminated) needles, SSPs promote public safety for not 
only the general public, but also law enforcement agents and first 
responders. Additionally, there is the potential for SSPs to save 
billions of taxpayer dollars nationwide by preventing HIV infections 
among injection drug users, many of whom would be reliant on public 
sector programs for HIV treatment and care.

Now that they have reached a budget deal, Congress will have another 
opportunity to remove the ban on federal funds for SSPs and let local 
officials decide how to use federal resources to fight HIV/AIDS. As a 
graduate of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 
Baltimore City, I support U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski's leadership on 
lifting the ban on use of federal funds for SSPs. It would be a big 
win for the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as marginalized 
populations, taxpayers and law enforcement in the U.S. for Congress 
to repeal the ban.

Erica Kuhlik, Washington, D.C. The writer is the Allan Rosenfield 
HIV/AIDS policy fellow at the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom