Congress appears unlikely to overturn a ban on using federal money for needle exchanges, despite a severe outbreak of HIV and hepatitis due to increased heroin use in several states,The New York Times reports.
The ban, put into place in 1988, prohibits federal money from being used to distribute sterile syringes to people who use intravenous drugs. Research has shown such programs can reduce the spread of disease, the article notes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that acute hepatitis C infections more than tripled from 2007 to 2012 among young people in rural areas in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. About 73 percent of those hepatitis C patients said they injected drugs. Injecting drugs can spread the hepatitis C virus when people share needles.