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Petition to GOP Leadership: Stop Condemning Injection Drug Users to Death

Speaker John Boehner (OH- R) and Chairman Hal Rogers (KY- R) are the two Members of Congress most responsible for reinstating the ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange. Please join us in letting them know we strongly object to their actions by signing on today, and please spread this alert.

To Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers,

We are petitioning to express our concerns regarding the shortsighted decision to block use of federal funding for syringe exchange programs in FY 2012 Appropriations. This policy reversal poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of American families, and will cost the nation’s taxpayers money in medical expenses to treat preventable infections for years to come.

At a time when our country faces an unprecedented epidemic of prescription drug abuse – including reports of hepatitis C outbreaks due to painkillers injected with unsterile syringes – we must keep all options on the table to protect our communities’ youth. As the Surgeon General determined in 2011, syringe exchange programs promote entry and retention in drug treatment, and these programs are effective in reducing not only HIV infections and transmission of other viruses, but also in reducing drug abuse itself.

Under previous federal policy, decisions on use of federal funds for syringe exchange were left in the hands of those who know best – local communities, in consultation with law enforcement and public health officials. This flexibility ensured that any use of federal funds remained consistent with local needs, priorities, and values.

We urge you to reverse this misguided funding restriction in FY 2013, and restore decision-making on syringe exchange to its rightful place: the wisdom of communities that are struggling to protect their own.

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