The National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was observed by many health care professionals and organizations gathered Thursday in an effort to lower the number of HIV or AIDS infections among black people, and also to draw people’s attention on the gravity of the problem.
Needle exchange is considered a beneficial strategy to stop the spread of AIDS and supply drug users with clean needles. There has been a 20 year ban on the federal funding for needle exchange programs.
Organizations such as the Black AIDS Institute, National Minority AIDS Council, NAACP, National Urban League, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Bar Association, American Medical Association and U.S. Conference of Mayors support this initiative, as a means of decreasing the number of the HIV positive injection drug users.
Dr. David Murray, chief scientist at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is among those supporting the federal ban. He thinks that the federal funds for drug-related problems should be used for putting an end to the addiction.
“Needles are not the magic bullet. We are being politically pressured to make this decision (in favor of needle exchange). But it’s time to rethink if there’s a more humane, effective public health response than continuing to support injection drug use,” Dr. Murray said, according to the Associated Press.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, due to the federal ban on needle exchange, states and cities were deterred from preventing intravenous drug users from sharing HIV-infected needles.
According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, more than 200 needle exchange programs exist in 36 states, and they recorded incredible results in reducing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.
The number of HIV positive injection drug users dropped more than 75 percent from 1990 to 2001, says a 2005 study of New York City HIV trends.
According to News 10 Now, Christopher Doctor, who is the local Communities of Color Initiatives Coordinator, says that AIDS is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for black women ages 25 to 34, and the fourth leading cause of death for black men ages 35 to 44.
“They need to be aware of all the different modes of transmission and they also need to know their own status, because if you don’t know your status, once again, you are passing this on to other people,” Doctor said.