San Francisco Chronicle (12.25.11) - Monday, January 09, 2012
Recently signed legislation to fund US government operations
for 2012 includes a provision that reinstates the ban on using
federal funds for needle-exchange programs (NEPs). The
decades-long ban had been reversed in 2009, when President
Barack Obama signed a Democratic-sponsored measure into law.
In San Francisco, the ban's reinstatement will have no
immediate effect. Using city and private funds, the San
Francisco AIDS Foundation leads a group of contractors that
distribute about 2.5 million sterile needles annually.
San Francisco spent $1.2 million on NEPs in 2010, foregoing
available federal funds as unstable due to "the volatile
economic and political climate," said Israel Nieves-Rivera, a
program director with the city Department of Public Health.
However, the lack of federal funding combined with state AIDS
cuts in 2009 will prevent counties from expanding their NEPs
to reach those in need, he said.
The Marin AIDS Project was planning to use a $28,500 CDC grant
for 2012 to resume NEPs serving West and South Marin and
Novato, which had ended due to the state cuts. The new federal
restrictions mean the money can be used only for AIDS
education and HIV testing, not needle distribution, said
Jennifer Malone, MAP's director.
Republican congressional negotiators also secured a continued
ban on federal and local funding of abortions for low-income
women in Washington, D.C.
The legislation was "the product of a tough negotiation," said
Adam Abrams, a White House spokesperson. "To reach a
compromise, we had to accept certain provisions that we
oppose, and these are two of them."