Amendment may block needle-exchange inititatives from DC

From Poz.com:

A proposed amendment to the federal appropriation for Washington, DC, would reduce public funding for needle-exchange initiatives, The Washington Post reports. The House Appropriations Committee approved the bill earlier this month.

According to the article, the amendment—backed by Representative Jack Kingston (R-Ga.)—would prevent the city from using federal money to distribute clean needles for the “injection of illegal drugs…within 1,00 feet of a public or private day care center, elementary school, vocational school, college, junior college, university, public swimming pool, park, playground, video arcade or youth center.”

Congress lifted the city’s ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs in 2007 to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood-borne illnesses among injection drug users. In the past year, DC has given $700,000 to four nonprofit groups with needle-exchange programs: PreventionWorks!, Break for the City, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS) and the Family Medical and Counseling Service.

Bread for the City executive director George A. Jones said that his organization provides 330 clean needles to about 20 clients monthly. The organization collects about 250 dirty needles in exchange.

“It could put our program in jeopardy,” Jones said of the amendment. “If they’re talking about recreation centers, we have one a block away. There are two day care centers within a block and a half. It would be a shame, because when people come to exchange needles, we’re able to send them to a network of other services that sometimes lead to sobriety. Obviously, this is a very hard to reach population.”


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