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Rep. McKinney Not Surprised By Clinton Administrationís Ducking Needle Exchange Funding

April 28, 1998

"Can we focus on saving lives and stop politicizing this issue?"

(Washington) -- Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) today expressed her dismay at the Clinton Administrationís decision to prohibit the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs. " As the number of HIV cases in women and minorities continue to devastate our communities, friends and families it is obvious to me that needle exchange programs would work to help save lives. I am greatly disappointed, but not surprised, that the Administration has decided, for political reasons, to ignore science and dodge the difficult question. It would rather treat HIV on the back side rather than prevent HIV on the front side," said McKinney.

Last week, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala issued her determination that based on scientific research, needle exchange programs were effective in stopping the spread of HIV and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs yet the Clinton Administration will not approve the use of federal funds for these programs. "Where is the logic? Iím not soft on drugs, but once again what should be public health policy has become bogged down in a political quagmire." said McKinney.

Both drug abuse and the spread of HIV are public health problems. "The Clinton Administration is allowing the Republican led Congress to further marginalize both those addicted to drugs and those with HIV. Further they are putting the lives of women and minorities that come in contact with intravenous drug abusers at risk for HIV," Said McKinney. "Letís not allow political hyperbole to cloud common sense," She concluded.

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