The US House of Representatives have voted in favour of lifting the ban on the use of US federal funds for needle exchange by a vote of 218 - 211. There are still some challenges ahead in this process but this is an important step in US government policy towards the endorsement of evidence-based harm reduction measures. Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the following statement:
"Sound science is an essential component of good public health policy, and the scientific support for needle exchange could not be more clear.
The Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes for Health, the World Health Organization, and former Surgeon General David Satcher have all confirmed the scientific evidence in support of needle exchange programs. These initiatives are an effective public health intervention that reduces the number of new HIV infections without increasing the use of illegal drugs.
By lifting the ban on federal funding for needle exchange, the language in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill reflects this sound science. Today's defeat of an amendment that would have reinstated the ban was a victory for science, for public health, for people living with HIV/AIDS, and for people at risk for HIV infection. As this bill moves forward, we must continue to ensure science comes first in our public health policy.
We simply cannot rest until we have done everything we can to prevent new HIV infections, including ensuring access to effective interventions such as needle exchange. We cannot rest until every person living with HIV has access to the care and medications they need to stay healthy. And we cannot rest until we have a cure."