National AIDS organizations are encouraging advocates to take action and call key Senators after hearing that negotiations on the appropriations bill - including riders like syringe exchange programs - are taking place at the highest levels. Conservative ideologues are likely to attempt to restore a ban to prevent the federal government from funding proven evidence-based interventions like syringe exchange programs.
AIDS advocacy groups like HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), AIDS United and the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) have all issued action alerts warning of the looming danger of roll backs to programs so critical to reduce injected drug use and slow the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C.
Several years ago, a dear friend once shared with me his painful struggle to escape the living hell of shooting up on crystal meth and how for years he lived with a "dirty secret" and feared reaching out for help. As tears ran down his cheek and fell from his chin, he explained the painful process of reaching out to friends for help - but he continually found himself abandoned by those close to him and desperate to find a way out.
As he went on with his story, he praised the efforts of harm reduction groups offering a syringe exchange program that helped him break free from a time never to be revisited. If it were not for the efforts of that organization, my friend would not be alive today.
After the jump, you will find the action we are asking you to participate in.
Back in 1988, a misguided Congress wrongly banned the ability of the federal government to fund syringe exchange programs (SEPs). Evidence-based interventions like SEPs have been proven to reduce injection drug use and successfully link a person to care, treatment and supportive services. Over the years, I continue to hear from people around the nation who are alive and well today because of these critical programs provide real hope and help restore their dignity.
In 2009, harm reduction advocates and AIDS organizations rejoiced when Congress redeemed itself and courageous Republicans like Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen bravely changed her position to support funding for syringe exchange programs and co-sponsored the legislation. (I was disappointed when the Log Cabin Republicans refused my request to acknowledge Ileana's leadership and ability to go beyond the stigma and do the correct thing.)
On December 25, 2009, the New York Times printed an editorial that stated:
It's good to see that Congress has finally come to its senses. But elected officials on both sides of the aisle will need to show considerably more courage the next time shortsighted lawmakers try to substitute political ideology for sound medical judgment.
Too many of our LGBT brothers and sisters constantly face a herculean challenge to end their addiction to drugs - namely crystal meth. Please help today and demand Senate democrats take a stand against the ideologues who continually attempt to roll back time on proven science-based prevention. Syringe exchange programs helped save my friend's life; the same program may help save the life of one of your loved ones.
Take Action Today & Help Save a Life
Please call Senators Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Inouye and Harkin. Even if you've made a call already we need to get calls in to the Senate. We need to keep the pressure on the Senate. If you can only make one call, please call Senator Reid.
The Phone Numbers
- Harry Reid Majority Leader - 202-224-3542
- Dick Durbin Majority Whip, Financial Services Subcommittee Chair - 202-224-2152
- Chuck Schumer Democratic Policy Committee Chair - 202-224-6542
- Daniel Inouye Appropriations Chairman - 202-224-3934
- Tom Harkin Labor, HHS Subcommittee Chair - 202-224-3254
My name is _______. I live in . I support maintaining current language that allows local officials to make their own decisions to use federal and local Washington DC funds for Syringe Exchange. Please do not change the current law in the Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations negotiations. Thank you.
After you make your calls, please post to this blog the response you receive from Senate offices.
Call now and keep calling. Share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. We are down to the final decision and now is not the time to drop the ball!