amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

amfAR Commends Congressional Action to Remove Ban on Federal Funds for Syringe Exchange


Contact:  Cub Barrett, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Researchm (212) 806-1602,

NEW YORK, December 9, 2009—amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, on Wednesday applauded the U.S. Congress for taking an important step toward lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs (SEPs).

The FY2010 spending package agreed to by a House-Senate conference committee Tuesday night removed the SEPs funding ban from the Labor-HHS-Education and Financial Services appropriations bills. The U.S. House and Senate must now vote to approve the combined spending package.

“We’re thrilled that Congress has taken this crucial step forward to promote effective, evidence-based HIV prevention policy,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “If, as we hope and expect, the full Congress passes this legislation to lift the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange, local governments and agencies will have more flexibility and be better equipped to combat HIV transmission in their communities. Availability of federal funds for SEPs is a particularly urgent matter given that many states are facing budget woes and are making cutbacks in health funding.”

Frost cited the contributions of U.S. Representative David Obey (D-WI), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, for championing passage of the syringe exchange legislation and helping to push it through Congress.

“Representative Obey’s leadership on this issue, in addition to invaluable support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, was the reason this legislation got off the ground,” Frost said. “Obey’s contributions were fundamental to this process from the beginning, and he skillfully worked with other lawmakers to put science before politics on this issue.”

Since 1988, the U.S. government has prevented local and state public health authorities from using federal funds for SEPs, which studies have shown to be effective in reducing HIV infection rates among injection drug users (IDUs) and their sexual partners, promoting public health and safety by taking syringes off the streets, and protecting law enforcement personnel from injuries.

During the past two decades, removal of the ban on federal funds for SEPs has been one of amfAR’s top policy priorities in Washington. amfAR worked closely with a coalition of groups this year to advocate for removal of the ban. Background materials on the issue are available at

“If this bill passes, we look forward to working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to successfully implement federal funding for these vital programs,” said Chris Collins, amfAR’s Vice President and Director of Public Policy. “Our work to reduce HIV incidence through proper funding of public health programs doesn’t end with the passage of this legislation.”

About amfAR
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $290 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.