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Needle-Exchange Funding Bill Criticized

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A bill to lift a ban on the use of U.S. government money for needle-exchange programs includes a provision that could still prevent most of the country's approximately 200 exchanges from getting any federal funding.

That's because the bill -- which has passed the House and a Senate subcommittee and awaits Senate action -- would forbid federally financed needle exchanges from being within 1,000 feet of a school, park, library, college, video arcade or any other place where children are likely to gather, The New York Times reported.

There are few, if any, places that could house a needle exchange under those rules, according to officials at exchanges in major cities. The same is true for many smaller, rural needle exchanges.

"This 1,000-foot rule is simply instituting the ban in a different form," Rebecca Haag, executive director of the AIDS Action Council advocacy group, told The Times. "Clearly the intent of this rule is to nullify the lifting of the ban."

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December 20, 2009 - 10:54pm
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