AHF Applauds Congress for Restoring Federal Money for Syringe Exchange Programs

Partial lifting of decades-long ban still does not allow federal
funds to directly purchase needles; AHF calls on state and local
governments to provide clean syringes for programs

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today applauded Congress for partially
lifting its longstanding ban on federal dollars being used to support
needle exchange programs that have been proven to reduce the
transmission of HIV and disease by allowing intravenous drug users to
trade in used syringes for new, clean ones. Inserted as a provision in
the omnibus spending bill signed by President Obama last month, the
legislation, while still prohibiting federal dollars from directly
purchasing syringes for needle exchanges, allows for federal funding to
be used to support other costs related to these programs, including
staff and educational outreach.

“We are pleased that concern for public health has trumped politics in
this long-overdue move to allow federal funds to support needle exchange
programs that have been studied and proven over the years to effectively
prevent HIV, hepatitis and other infections among intravenous drug
users,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “We must now work
to get state and local governments to step up and pay for the clean
syringes necessary to support these programs.”

The partial repeal of the ban—which was first enacted in 1988, lifted in
2009 and then reinstated in 2011—comes on the heels of a recent HIV and
hepatitis C outbreak in southeastern Indiana that was linked to
intravenous drug use. Efforts to end the ban were reportedly
led by Appropriations Chairman Congressman Hal Rogers and backed by
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans from Kentucky,
and Appropriations Committee member Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

When news of a large HIV outbreak driven by intravenous drug use in
Austin, Indiana surfaced last spring, AHF offered its support to City of
Austin Mayor Douglas Campbell, Scott County, and the State of Indiana by
sending one of its mobile testing vans to Austin to offer free HIV
testing and counseling. In December, AHF held a dedication ceremony for
its new AHF Healthcare Center/Austin and AHF Pharmacy that will offer
state-of-the-art medical care and specialty pharmacy services to people
living with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C in Austin and Southern Indiana.
Located at 25 West Main Street in conjunction with Foundations
Family Medicine
and led by Dr. William Cooke, the City of
Austin’s only physician who now also serves as Medical Director of AHF’s
Healthcare Center, both the AHF Healthcare Center and AHF
Pharmacy operate Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8%
(3,900) of the estimated 47,500 new HIV infections in the United States
in 2010 were attributed to injection drug use. AIDSWatch reported
in 2014 that a 2005 CDC study found that the cost to prevent one HIV
infection by syringe exchange programs (SEPs) has been calculated at
$4,000–$12,000, considerably less than the estimated $379,668 lifetime
costs of treating a person infected with HIV.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over
500,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn
more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare
and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

Contacts

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea, Senior Director,
Communications
+1.323.308.1833 work
+1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
Christopher
Johnson,
Associate Director of Communications
+1.323.960.4846
work
+1.310.880.9913 mobile
christopher.johnson@aidshealth.org