House Republicans Open to Funding Needle Exchange Programs

“Faced with a health crisis resulting from a rise in heroin use in many of their home states, House Republicans are easing their longstanding opposition to federal funding in support of needle exchange programs,” according to the New York Times.

“In the past, they have backed not only a prohibition on buying needles but also on spending any federal dollars ‘to carry out any program of distributing sterile needles for the hypodermic injection of any illegal drug.’ But an outbreak of AIDS and hepatitis tied to heroin and other drug use in states like Indiana and Kentucky has led conservative public officials in those states to reverse themselves and allow needle exchange programs as a way to combat the spread of disease and bring drug users into treatment programs.”

“Under the proposed bill, federal money could go toward the support of exchange programs if the state or local community ‘is experiencing, or is at risk for, a significant increase in hepatitis infections or an HIV outbreak due to injection drug use, and such program is operating in accordance with state and local law.’”

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