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Capitol Health Call
October 8, 2008

Needle Exchange

JAMA. 2008;300(14):1642. doi:10.1001/jama.300.14.1642-a

Rep José E. Serrano (D, NY) introduced legislation in the House on July 30 that would lift the ban on using federal funds for syringe exchange programs.

The Community AIDS and Hepatitis Prevention Act (HR 6680 [http://thomas.loc.gov]) would allow federal funding for programs to distribute sterile syringes to reduce the transmission of blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and viral hepatitis. The bill cited data from 81 cities across Europe, Asia, and North America that found, on average, HIV prevalence among injection drug users increased annually by 5.9% in the 52 cities without syringe exchange programs and decreased by 5.8% in the 29 cities with syringe exchange programs. The bill also stated that each year, about 12 000 persons in the United States contract HIV/AIDS and about 19 000 contract hepatitis C directly or indirectly from sharing contaminated syringes.