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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 05/17/2009

Courage Is Needed on Needle Exchange

By Marisa Katz

By Paola Barahona
Washington

The Obama administration's budget dealt a serious blow to those who support syringe exchange programs to prevent the transmission of HIV, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases.

On the campaign trail, during the transition and in the White House, President Obama has expressed support for removing the federal ban prohibiting the use of federal funds for these programs. But he kept the ban in his budget despite research clearly showing that such programs work.

Addressing the personal and public dangers of injection drug use may not have wide political support, but doing so is an important health and human rights issue with serious public health ramifications. As supporters of disease prevention policy rooted in science rather than politics or ideology, we have waited too long for "change" that makes sense.

We have a bold and courageous leader in President Obama. Swift action driven by courage is needed now to remove this anachronistic ban.

The writer is senior global health policy advocate for Physicians for Human Rights and founding executive director of Prevention Works in Washington.

By Marisa Katz  | May 17, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  HIV, public health  
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