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End Federal Ban on Needle Exchanges, Says U.S. Conference of Mayors


July 1997

The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), at its five-day annual meeting, adopted a resolution calling for an end to the federal ban on needle-exchange programs. USCM represents over 1050 mayors of cities with populations of a least 30,000 (Honorable Willie Brown, Jr. and Honorable Richard Riordan, "Rationale For Needle Exchange Programs," United States Conference of Mayors, Resolution No. 26, June 24, 1997; Edward Epstein, "Mayors Want Role in Welfare Reform Group also calls for EPA to ease rules," San Francisco Chronicle, June 25, 1997, p. A7).

The resolution noted that HIV-AIDS among intravenous drug users is increasing, that needle exchange programs have been proven to work, and that studies have shown they do not increase drug use. The bipartisan resolution called on the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, to lift the 1988 ban on federal financing for needle-exchange programs.

"Needle-exchange programs can offer a bridge to drug treatment, HIV prevention information and medical and support services to hard to reach populations who might not otherwise receive such services," said the resolution. The mayors said "that needle exchange is only one, vital component of a comprehensive HIV prevention program, including information, medical treatment, substance abuse treatment and a broad range of complementary social services necessary to prevent the spread of HIV."

For a copy of the resolution, contact the U.S. Conference of Mayors - 1620 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006, Tel: (202) 293-7330, or contact the NewsBriefs office.