HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html New Law Allows Needle Exchanges in Washington
Pubdate: Thu, 27 Dec 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Ian Urbina
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


WASHINGTON -- President Bush signed legislation on Wednesday lifting 
a ban that for nearly a decade has prevented city officials here from 
using local tax money for needle exchange programs.

Officials of the District of Columbia Health Department said that 
with the ban lifted, they would allocate $1 million for such programs in 2008.

Since 1999, the nation's capital, which reports having the highest 
rate of AIDS infection of any major city in the country, has been the 
only city barred by federal law from using municipal money for needle 
exchanges. A recent report by the city showed that intravenous drug 
users' sharing of needles was second only to unprotected sex as a 
leading cause of H.I.V. transmission.

Congress controls local government here, and for nine years members 
of the House, expressing concerns about worsening drug abuse, had 
inserted into the bill approving the city's budget a provision to 
prohibit financing needle exchange programs. But with Republicans' 
loss of Congressional control to Democrats, this year's bill, signed 
by Mr. Bush on Wednesday, reversed the ban.

"For too long, Congress has unfairly imposed on the citizens of D.C. 
by trying out their social experiments there," said Representative 
Jose E. Serrano, the New York Democrat who heads the House 
Appropriations subcommittee that handles the city's budget. "The ban 
on needle exchanges was one of the most egregious of these 
impositions, especially because the consensus is clear that these 
programs save lives." 
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