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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about needle and syringe exchange programs, Obama's handshake in Latin America, reverse-discrimation, and what US students learn about Islam.

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Fund needle and syringe exchange programs

Regarding the April 21 article, "Obama drug policy encourages activists in developing world": This article incorrectly claims that "the Obama White House has approved federal funding of needle and syringe exchanges." If only.

Under current law, the secretary of Health and Human Services, who is yet to be confirmed by the Senate, can make a determination allowing for federal funding. President Obama's appointee, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, may reflect his long-standing support for federal funding and allow it.

There is also growing bipartisan support for the passage of HR 179, the Community AIDS and Hepatitis Prevention Act. It would permit the use of federal funds, without depending on the secretary. As the bill says, syringe exchanges are cost-effective and "are an effective public health intervention that reduces HIV transmission without increasing the use of illicit drugs."

Previously, while volunteering with a harm reduction program in Atlanta, I saw how they provide a valuable link to drug treatment programs and how "drug users who are referred to addiction treatment from syringe exchange programs are more likely to enter and remain in treatment," as HR 179 states.

Federal money would allow more injection drug users to protect their health and the health of their partners.


Obama's Chávez handshake was a good move

In regard to the April 22 editorial, "Get a grip on Obama's handshake": I am so grateful some media outlets, like the Monitor, realize the significance of this handshake. It can only benefit our tainted image in Latin America, where I lived for four years.

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