PHR Action Center

What's At Stake?

Tell Congress Harm Reduction = Human Rights

According to data from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, injection drug use accounts for more than one-third (36 percent) of the estimated 59,000 annual new cases of AIDS in the United States. In the African American community the impact of the federal ban is mind-numbing: up to 42% of males and 51% of females infected with AIDS result from the proliferation of shared needles among infected injection drug users.

Rigorous scientific research has proven clearly that improved access to sterile syringes through needle exchange programs reduces the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C, without increasing drug use. Needle exchange is widely accepted as part of the AIDS prevention landscape. Yet, the ban on federal funding has resulted in too few programs and too few services, creating a dependence on limited private philanthropy. This political obstacle severely constrains one of the most effective strategies for preventing HIV transmission in adults.

Syringe exchange, or needle exchange, programs are a proven and effective means of stemming the spread of HIV and other blood-borne illnesses. Furthermore, accepted scientific research has shown that needle exchange programs do not increase or encourage drug use. Needle exchange may be the first opportunity for some people to receive any type of health care intervention, and provides an avenue of education for risk reduction.

It also increases the opportunity to engage individuals in preparation for drug treatment as they reduce their harm related to drugs and paraphernalia use. These programs not only decrease transmission of HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne illnesses, but also increase safe injecting practices, entrance into drug treatment programs, and safe disposal of used syringes.

Removing the needle exchange federal funding ban is a critical step in advancing a national AIDS policy that places saving lives above politics. It provides much-needed resources and access to services for a key at-risk population, and reduces their likelihood of contracting and spreading blood borne diseases.

See more information on HIV Prevention for Drug Users.

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