the needle and the damage done...

The joint House and Senate 2010 appropriations bill contains language that removes the federal ban on funding needle-exchange programs. Of course, it still could be changed. But if it does not, it will be a significant step forward in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS among IV-drug users. One pilot program experienced reductions as high as 80%. So we can expect similar results should programs expand to all states. And while such humane measures are long overdue, it still places all IV users at risk of unknown purity as well as the more pernicious vagaries of drug prohibition: IV-drug users will continue to face a dangerous and hostile environment where they buy and use heroin and other injectable drugs. Still, this represents science over ideology - something Obama has promised to support.

Another aspect of the appropriations bill is arguably as important. It calls for the complete de-funding of all abstinence-only sex education programs. Of course, it says nothing about providing honest sex education to America's youth but, like the needle-exchange language, it is a significant step in the right direction. We'll have to wait and see how the religious community reacts, but something tells me they won't be happy. And that couldn't make me happier.

Stay healthy and high when it helps