Congress has restored a ban on using federal funding for syringe exchange programs, reports. The ban, which was voted on as part of the 2012 federal spending package, also bans the State Department from using funds for needle exchange in international programs. Activists are now warning that the ban will increase the infection rates of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. The existing policy, signed into law by President Obama in 2009, allows states to use federal funds for syringe access when they consult with local law enforcement. That policy is credited with preventing thousands of new cases of HIV and hepatitis C. Numerous federal reports have found that increasing access to sterile syringes lowers rates of infectious diseases without increasing drug use.

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