The capital of the United States has HIV rates higher than those of Congo and Ethiopia. A lot of those infections are among drug injectors. Many in the city were hugely relieved when a ban on funding for needle exchange programmes in DC was effectively dropped just a couple of weeks ago. The city’s mayor immediately put US $ 650,000 on the table to fund sterile injecting equipment for injectors.
Tut tut, said George Bush. And in his budget proposal for 2009, he will try to have the ban reinstated. He did this on the very day that the NAACP and others called on Congress to drop a ban on federal funding for needle programmes nationwide (a position which is, incidentally, supported by Barack Obama. NAACP is no doubt shocked at HIV prevalence among the capital’s blacks, which, at close to 5%, rivals that of many African nations. The organisation has been banging the “more clean needles, please” drum since at least 1997, to no avail. While it makes not a jot of sense, the administration’s “clean needles spread drug use” drum appears to sound more loudly.