Federal money could be used to pay for needle-exchange programs under budget legislation approved this week by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Associated Press reported July 25.
The measure would lift a 21-year-old ban on funding needle exchanges, which research has shown to reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS and other diseases among injection-drug users. During the debate on the measure, the House voted 218-211 against an amendment by Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) that would have kept the prohibition intact.
Souder claimed that needle exchanges do not have a proven track record and that “providing needles acts as a way for drug users to sustain and support their intravenous drug use and does not address the primary illness of the drug addiction.”
However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the “scientific support for needle exchange could not be more clear.”
“These initiatives are an effective public health intervention that reduces the number of new HIV infections without increasing the use of illegal drugs,” said Pelosi.