The D.C. Appleseed Center’s fifth annual report card on HIV/AIDS in the District, released today, gives generally good marks to Adrian M. Fenty and his administration for their efforts to fight the disease, though D.C. continues to have the highest rate of infection in the country.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who wants to impose restrictions on federal funding of needle exchange in D.C. to the point that it could hardly be done at all, might take special note of the section in the report on such programs. It says the District needs far more needle exchange, not less.
That is especially true in the case of injection drug users (IDUs), who still account for about 15 percent of HIV/AIDS cases here.
Other SEPs [syringe exchange programs] in cities of comparable size are exchanging far more syringes than in DC. San Francisco exchanged 2.3 million needles in 2008. Along with syringe exchange, the San Francisco program distributes about 4,000 condoms per week. San Francisco relies heavily on volunteers and its effort has led to a substantial reduction in new HIV infections among IDUs.
… Philadelphia saw its IDU HIV rate drop from 33 percent to 16 percent between 1995 and 2005. The city currently is exchanging roughly 1.5 million needles per year. DC Appleseed believes a major expansion of the District’s program will be required before we can expect to see a reduction in HIV/AIDS rate among IDUs.
Here’s a map of where dirty needles and syringes could be exchanged for clean ones if the House bill, with Kingston’s amendment, becomes law.
One other thing: Kingston took to the House floor a few weeks ago to rail against the “Washington knows best” mentality that he says President Barack Obama is taking on health-care reform. You can go to his website’s blog, where there’s even a little video: “JACK ON THE FLOOR – Washington doesn’t know best.”
Except on D.C. needle exchange.