Source: CNN 
Pubdate: Thu, 16 Apr 1998


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Clinton administration is poised to lift a ban on
using federal funds to pay for needle exchange programs, designed to stop
the spread of HIV among intravenous drug users, CNN has learned.

However, individuals close to the issue say the decision was made over the
objections of White House drug policy director Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who,
in a letter to Congress last month, said that "we owe our children an
unambiguous 'no use' message."

Sources say that an announcement on lifting the 10-year-old ban could come
as soon as Friday. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala signed
off on the change and forwarded it to the White House for final approval,
sources say.

However, an aide to Shalala denies that any final decision has been made.

Critics of needle exchange programs believe they help facilitate drug use
by addicts.

However, several scientific studies have shown that the programs reduce the
rate of HIV transmission among addicts without increasing their drug use.

About 80 needle exchange programs are operating around the country,
according to the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, which runs one of
those programs. However, none of those programs can use federal money to
pay for clean needles that are distributed to addicts.