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Norton to press for needle exchange

Metro Brief

On July 13, 2015

Credit: Joe Mabel/Creative Commons

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that this week’s report on HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia, showing significant progress in the city’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS will help her in the upcoming appropriations process. 

Norton said the official report, issued by the District, will reinvigorate her efforts to keep the deadly rider that banned D.C. from using its local funds for needle exchange from being re-imposed and will help her get an extra $5 million in annual federal funding to combat HIV/AIDS in the District.  

Norton said the 87 percent decrease in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases attributable to injection drug use since 2008 virtually mandates that the needle exchange program continues. In 2008, Norton was successful in removing the needle exchange rider from the annual D.C. Appropriations bill, and it has not been re-imposed since.  

The report highlighted the decrease in newly-diagnosed HIV cases for five straight years. Norton said among the report’s most significant findings was that there were no babies born with HIV in 2013, which shows D.C. is making every effort to treat women infected with HIV/AIDS with anti-retroviral drugs during the early stages of pregnancy.

“The District has put in place the strategies, programs, resources, and community outreach that I believe will ultimately remove the city from the list where HIV/AIDS has been classified an epidemic,” said Norton. “We continue to see in this year’s report the District needle exchange program is getting the city close to zero HIV/AIDS cases attributable to injection drug use. 

“Thousands of lives have been saved in the seven years since we got the devastating needle-exchange rider removed. D.C.’s HIV/AIDS programs should be applauded and imitated. Congress can do its job by standing down on interfering with any of the tools that have brought the city this success, including our needle-exchange program.”

Norton secured the extra $5 million in the House Appropriations Committee-passed fiscal 2016 D.C. Appropriations bill to combat HIV/AIDS in the District, the same amount as the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and as the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget request.

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