Congress must work to fight bans on needle exchange programs that can save lives and slow the spread of HIV/AIDS, says an anonymous editorial in The New York Times (, 2/24).

“Needle exchange programs have proved highly successful around the world, and the country’s most important medical and public health organizations have endorsed the efforts for more than a decade,” according to the piece. “Opponents’ claims that needle exchanges would encourage addiction have turned out to be nonsense.”

The editorial says that though Congress lifted a 10-year ban on the use of tax dollars to fund needle-exchange efforts in Washington, DC, last December, President Bush’s new budget request would reinstate the ban. As DC has the nation’s highest HIV rate, “Congress must insist that Washington be allowed to spend its own money on needle-exchange programs,” according to the piece.