September 12, 2015

Commentary: End the Ban on Federal Funding for Needle Exchange Programs

Written by Monica S. Ruiz and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton

This post originally appeared on Roll Call

The outbreak of HIV in Indiana last spring serves as yet another wake-up call to America about injection drug use and the urgent need for needle exchange programs.

Soon after the outbreak erupted, Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence approved a needle exchange program in Scott County in an effort to stop the rapid spread of HIV. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill should follow that courageous lead and lift the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs, an effort that could prevent similar HIV outbreaks all over the country.

What’s the urgency? Public health officials say there has been a sharp rise in the number of people using heroin and other highly addictive drugs in recent years. In fact, between 2012 and 2013, the number of U.S. drug overdose deaths resulting from heroin spiked from 5,900 to 8,200, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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