Locally funded needle exchange is officially returning to Washington. Dr. Shannon Hader, the District's HIV/AIDS czar, yesterday named the four groups who will share $494,000 in funding. The majority of the funding is slated for PreventionWorks!, the only organization in D.C. that was doing needle exchange during a decade-long, federally imposed funding ban specifically targeting the nation's capital. For the other three groups, the funding will allow them to incorporate needle exchange into their existing programs.
Though the funding amount is less than the $650,000 Mayor Adrian Fenty announced in a January press conference, the announcement is still a relief following rumors that few agencies in the District were prepared to take on needle exchange.
The services could be critical in D.C. as the city attempts to combat a reemergence of HIV/AIDS, while successful implementation could spur policymakers to finally lift the broader federal funding ban, as well.