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August 27, 2008

Local Funds for DC Syringe-Exchange Programs

Eight months after Congress lifted a decade-long ban on using funds from the District of Columbia to support syringe-exchange programs in Washington, DC, local tax dollars are beginning to reach such initiatives, The Washington Times reports.

In DC, one in 20 people is living with HIV, making it the city hardest-hit by HIV/AIDS with an infection rate that rivals those of some developing countries. According to a report released last year by the city’s HIV/AIDS administration, intravenous drug use is the second most common mode of transmission in DC following unprotected sex. Officials are optimistic that providing clean syringes to drug users will help reduce their risk of infection, but they admit that it is just part of a multipronged approach to fighting the city’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“There is no silver bullet,” said Walter Smith, director of the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, which monitors city efforts to reduce new HIV infections. “There are multiple factors that have produced our high HIV/AIDS rate, and it will take multiple factors to bring it down.”

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