The needle exchange funding ban was lifted in the House. It still has to pass through the Senate, but if all goes well, it is possible that DC will be able to fund its own needle exchange starting this fall. Hooray!
Here are some great Washington Post stories that provide more details:
From the front page of the Metro section on June 29th, including a photo of PreventionWorks staff: House Repeals Needle Ban.
Sunday, July 1st: Big Break is Possible for Small Crusade.
Op-Ed from July 2nd: Needle-Exchange Victory.
And, the article those of us interested in international health as well as domestic health have been waiting for, a letter to the editor from July 6th: Needle Exchange Needs Beyond DC.
If you have no time for the above links, here’s an excerpt from an email I got from AIDS Action summarizing what’s going on:
“The House debated the Souder amendment to ban DC from using local funding on syringe exchange late on Wednesday night. During that debate, the first amendment offered by Souder was ruled out of order because it was considered a legislative action on an appropriations bill. So he offered a second amendment that narrowed the local spending prohibition on syringe exchange to Whitman-Walker Clinic (an HIV/AIDS clinic here in Washington) and PreventionWorks! (a syringe exchange and HIV prevention organization). Souder lost the voice vote and a roll call vote was delayed until yesterday evening. Finally, during yesterdayâ€™s voting, the amendment was defeated 216-208. It was a very close vote â€“ 30 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment, but 15 Republicans voted against it. This is literally an historic vote â€“ the first vote on syringe exchange since 2000 and I think that it is the first favorable vote ever. Here is the recorded vote [...] We expect that with a quick resolution in the Senate, Washington will now be allowed to use its funds on syringe exchange. However, there continues to be a ban on allowing any federal funding to be spent on syringe exchange. Not only does this hamper HIV prevention efforts in many communities throughout the U.S. it also has caused U.S. officials to disapprove funding in other countries for syringe exchange. This is particularly problematic in countries which receive U.S. funding and which have high rates of HIV due to intravenous drug use. We will continue to work to end this ban in the future.”