Can't Believe This

Can't Believe This

I know it's certainly not anything like Reagan did to make the spread of AIDS possible, but I'm not so keen on Obama this week.

Syringe exchange is a harm reduction public health practice that has been show through multiple multiple studies and in multiple settings, to decrease HIV transmission. We know it works, no question about that, the mainstream public health studies have confirmed it. Syringe exchange has a public image problem to be sure. I used to provide flu shots for the local (Philadelphia) syringe exchange sites and neighbors would stop by sometimes, complain about “giving away needles” when in fact, nothing of the sort was taking place. The thing is, most folks don't want IV drug users hanging around in groups in their neighborhoods. Okay, that makes sense on the surface, but every needle exchanged is a dirty needle off the street, which makes for a safer neighborhood. Workers at the exchange would often stop to chat with neighbors and explain the concept and process behind the exchange. Most would ultimately come around, and I remember one of the virulent exchange haters after a time began bringing cookies to the workers and exchangers after he realized, the more they came around, the less needles were hanging out in the empty lot next door.

At any rate, the Republicans shoved in—and the Democrats allowed-- a ban on federal funding for syringe exchange in a piece of budget legislation that passed this week. Since we know syringe exchanges prevent HIV transmission and since I'm assuming Obama and the congressfolks aren't living anywhere they have to deal with exchanges in their neighborhood, the only conclusion I can draw is that they don't care if poor folks get HIV. Or worse.