Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi


April 13, 2000

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-SF) announced the findings of a recent report Thursday, compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at her request, that reaffirms the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs in the fight against HIV.

"This review of scientific literature confirms what researchers have known for many years – that responsible syringe exchange programs are working," Pelosi said. "Clearly these programs are an important strategy in fighting HIV – especially in urban areas. In addition, the report also notes that 75% of HIV infections among women and children are linked to injection drug use."

Pelosi requested that HHS prepare a review of all published scientific studies of syringe exchange programs (SEPs) completed since April 1998. According to the Surgeon General’s report, senior scientists at HHS and the Surgeon General "unanimously agreed that there is conclusive scientific evidence that syringe exchange programs, as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy, are an effective public health intervention that reduces transmission of HIV and does not encourage the illegal use of drugs."

The report concluded that syringe exchange programs enable communities to reach out to the active drug injecting population and link users to local substance abuse treatment and counseling programs and other important health services. "The scientific evidence accumulated to date provides a basis on which municipalities that are heavily affected by an HIV epidemic driven by injection drug use should consider syringe exchange programs as a tool for the identification, referral and retention of active users of injection drugs into these services, as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention plan."

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