Source: See Below
Pubdate: 20 April 1998
Editors Note: Today Ty Trippet of The Lindesmith Center, DRCNet, and Mark
Greer of DrugSense all sent out alerts about the USA Today poll on needle
exchange. What poll questions does not make clear is that the block on the
use of federal funds for needle exchanges prevents funds already being
provided as block grants to cities and states to fight AIDS from being used
in this most important part of the fight. There are two polls (and perhaps
more) collecting votes right now. The USA TODAY poll is at:
and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram one at:

If the following does not help you to consider voting, perhaps watching the
numbers climb on the War on Drugs clock at:
will. Oh, and we will not mind if our friends outside the United States
vote, too. - Richard Lake, Senior Editor, DrugSense News Service


SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 20, 1998--Health and Human Services
Secretary Donna Shalala has announced today her finding that needle
exchange programs decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS and do not lead to
increased drug use.  In spite of this determination, however, Secretary
Shalala will not make any federal funds available to support needle
exchange efforts and instead shunted the responsibility to local
communities to fund these life-saving programs.  

"While we are relieved that the Secretary has acknowledged the scientific
data at long last, the decision to withhold federal funding from needle
exchange programs is immoral and deadly," said Pat Christen, Executive
Director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation HIV Prevention Project,
operator of the nation's largest needle exchange program.  "This
administration has shown a callous disregard for the disproportionate
impact this decision will have on communities of color and women." 

Nearly 50% of all new HIV infections and 44%, 44% and 61% of all reported
AIDS cases among African American, Latinos, and women, respectively, are
related to injection drug use.  

Existing law prohibits the use of federal funds for needle exchange unless
the Secretary of Heath and Human Services certifies that needle exchange
reduces HIV transmission and does not encourage drug use.  Numerous
scientific studies, including a 1997 Consensus Conference by the National
Institutes of Health, has concluded that these two conditions have been met. 

"It defies logic to determine a program's efficacy and then not fund the
program, especially in the middle of an epidemic," said Congresswoman Nancy
Pelosi of San Francisco.  "The Administration's decision shows a lack of
political will in the midst of a public health emergency." 

In recent months, the Administration's deliberations were strongly
influenced by the President Clinton's so-called "drug czar," General Barry
McCaffrey, who opposes needle exchange despite overwhelming scientific
evidence that such programs do not lead to increase drug use.  

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation ( is a non-profit,
community- based AIDS service organization that has been at the forefront
of the battle against HIV disease for sixteen years.  The San Francisco
AIDS Foundation HIV Prevention Project works in partnership with the San
Francisco AIDS Foundation and operates the nation's largest needle exchange
program at 2.2 million sterile syringes exchanged each year.  

CONTACT: San Francisco AIDS Foundation - Derek Gordon, 415/487-3031


Federal Government Chooses Politics Over Science

LOS ANGELES, April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by James
Loyce, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, AIDS Project Los Angeles:

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala abdicated her
responsibility to protect the health of United States citizens today by
recommending that no federal funds be spent on needle exchange programs to
stop the spread of HIV.  Drug tzar, General Barry McCafferey, an official
with no statutory responsibility for the health of the public has won this
battle. This egregious disregard for science and public health may
sacrifice the lives of 33 Americans who will be infected by dirty needles
each day on the altar of political expediency.

In Los Angeles County and the United States, the increase in infections
among women is largely due to injection drug use.  More women, and
therefore children, are not only at risk from sharing needles, but from
having sex with infected injection drug users.

By choosing not to allocate federal funds for needle exchange programs, the
federal government is ignoring multiple scientific findings that these
activities do not promote drug use and decrease the rate of new infections.
Needle exchanges also help injection drug users access information about
drug treatment.

SOURCE: AIDS Project Los Angeles


Applauds Science-Based Decision; Says Women, Children, Families at Risk

NEW YORK, April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Mathilde Krim, Chairman of the Board
of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), made the following
statement today following the announcement by Secretary of Health and Human
Services Donna Shalala regarding needle exchange programs: 

"Today, the Administration has put science and principle ahead of politics
to save lives with Secretary Shalala's determination on needle exchange.
At this critical juncture, however, we urge the Administration to make this
positive determination a practical reality across our country by lifting
the ban on the federal funding for needle exchange programs.

"A growing number of new cases of HIV infection and AIDS in the United
States are due to the use of HIV-contaminated needles by injection drug
users. The lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are
threatened today by this source of HIV transmission.  Already, the majority
of new cases of AIDS among women are directly or indirectly associated with
injection drug use.

"Needle exchange programs have been evaluated by prestigious scientific and
other panels for their ability to reverse the deadly tide.  These programs
were repeatedly found capable of stemming the rate of HIV transmission
among exchange participants without contributing to increased injection
drug use.

"Since 1988, AmFAR has invested $3.5 million in the planning, conduct and
evaluation of the efficacy of needle exchange programs both in the Untied
States and overseas.  AmFAR-funded research showed that needle exchange
reduces HIV infection by two thirds among injection drug users within three
years and does not increase drug use.  Today, as the largest independent
funders of research on this issue, we, at AmFAR, are proud of this
important contribution.

"We thank the Secretary for accepting the judgment of those who speak for
our scientific, medical, public health and legal communities; for weighing
the facts against speculations, and for arriving at a determination that
will encourage communities to develop comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention
programs that include a needle exchange component.

"We must now urge the Administration to go further, and lift the ban on
federal funding for needle exchange programs.

"There is only one morally acceptable outcome to a political impasse on
this issue in a society that believes in the inherent value of each and
every human life.

"Given today's recognition of scientific fact from the Administration, the
withholding of federal funds for needle exchange programs means the immoral
withholding of a lifesaving intervention from most of those people that the
public health system is there to protect."