Source: CNN Contact: Website: http://www.cnn.com/ Pubdate: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 Sources: NEEDLE-EXCHANGE FUNDING BAN TO BE LIFTED 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.