NAACP Supports Federal Funding for Syringe Exchange Programs to Help Combat Spread Of HIV / AIDS
NAACP OPPOSES PROPOSED "1000-FOOT" PROVISION DRAMATICALLY LIMITING LOCAL AUTHORITIES? ABILITY TO USE THE FUNDING EFFECTIVEL
HIV/AIDS has had a devastating impact on Black Americans. AIDS is the number one killer of African American men ages 25 to 44 and the number one killer of African American women ages 15 to 44. While African Americans make up approximately 12.7% of the entire U.S. population we are 45% of the 56,300 people who are newly infected with HIV each year, 50% of those living with AIDS and 50% of those who die from AIDS each year. Compounding the horror, African American children account for 58% of pediatric AIDS cases in the United States. There are fewer HIV-positive people in seven of the 15 target countries of the Global AIDS Initiative than there are HIV-positive African Americans here at home.
At the end of 2006, nearly one-third of all U.S. AIDS cases -- more than 300,000 -- were linked to intravenous drug use. Injection drug use through a contaminated syringe is one of the most common methods of HIV transmission among both Black men and women. Cumulatively, up to 40% of reported AIDS cases among Black males and 47% of reported AIDS cases among Black females are attributed directly to injection drug use or having sex with a partner who is an injection drug user.
Studies have shown that Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs) are effective in reducing HIV and hepatitis infection rates among injection drug users and their sexual partners. Furthermore, SEPs promote public health and safety by taking syringes off the streets, and protect law enforcement personnel and innocent bystanders, including children, from injuries. Syringe exchange programs also provide critical health care services including HIV testing, counseling, education, and referral to drug addiction treatment centers. Sadly, since 1988 Congress has banned local and state public health authorities from using federal funds for Syringe Exchange Programs.
This summer, the House of Representatives took a historic step by removing the ban on federal funding for SEPs. Unfortunately, in doing so the House added a restriction that requires that federally supported SEPs not operate within 1,000 feet of schools, universities, playgrounds, video arcades, youth centers, or events sponsored by these organizations. The 1,000-foot restriction, if it stands, would make it nearly impossible to utilize federal resources for most SEPs and severely hamper efforts to implement such programs, especially in cities and urban areas where health officials assert the need is greatest. It also prevents local authorities from making their own decisions on how to best utilize federal funds in the fight against the spread of HIV / AIDS.
THE FATE OF SYRINGE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS WILL BE DECIDED BY A HOUSE-SENATE COMMITTEE LATER THIS MONTH. THE NAACP URGES ALL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO SUPPORT THE LIFTING OF THE FEDERAL FUNDING BAN AND TO OPPOSE THE 1000-FOOT RULE.