Blog of Rights

World AIDS Day 2009: ACLU AIDS Lawyer Talks Advocacy

World AIDS Day 2009: ACLU AIDS Lawyer Talks Advocacy

By Anna Mumford, LGBT Project at 3:08pm
In commemoration of World AIDS Day, ACLU attorney Rose Saxe agreed to sit down for a quick interview to discuss the AIDS Project’s litigation and advocacy work.

People With HIV are "Dangerous As Rattlesnakes"

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 5:21pm

Last night, Salon.com featured an op-ed by Rachel Maddow (Yes! That Rachel Maddow!) and Margaret Winter, Associate Director at the ACLU's National Prison Project (NPP). Maddow worked for NPP from 2002 to 2004, and still covers issues of discrimination…

ACLU Advocates for HIV+ Air Force Vet Denied Baggage Screening Job

By Anna Mumford, LGBT Project at 4:18pm

Today the ACLU filed an appeal to the decision by the Transportation Security Administration’s to disqualify Air Force Veteran Michael Lamarre from qualifying for a baggage screening job because he has HIV.

Click on the video below to…

House Vote on Syringe Exchange Programs a Victory for Public Health

Last week, Congress took an important step in the fight against HIV/AIDS with a historic vote on syringe exchange programs. On July 25, the House voted to remove the ban on providing federal funding for syringe exchange programs.

Since 1988, the federal government has prohibited states from using their share of HIV/AIDS prevention money in syringe exchange programs, one of the most effective programs available to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as well as Hepatitis C and other blood-borne illnesses. This policy was based on ideology rather than on evidence, and the repeal of this ban signifies that Congress is finally realizing that needle exchange programs are a safe and effective approach in reducing the public health problems associated with drugs.

Syringe exchange programs allow intravenous drug users to obtain hypodermic needles and associated injection equipment at little or no cost, and most of these services allow drug users to exchange used, dirty needles for new ones. They also often provide other public health services, such as HIV and Hepatitis C testing and access to substance abuse counseling. Numerous federally funded studies have shown that needle exchanges slow the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C and that they do not increase substance abuse. This scientific evidence has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and the American Medical Association, among others. See the CDC’s Report here (PDF) confirming that needle exchange programs are helpful not only in reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS, but also as a way to get intravenous drug users into healthcare programs and to treatment that helps to get them off drugs.

Syringe exchanges are cost-effective and life saving programs. Each year,nearly 8,000 people in the US contract HIV/AIDS,and about 12,000 contract Hepatitis C,directly or indirectly from sharing contaminated syringes.The cost of preventing one case of HIV infection through syringe exchange programs is approximately $4,000 to $12,000, and yields savings of as much as $648,000 in medical costs per HIV infection and approximately $25,000 to $30,000 in medical costs per Hepatitis C infection prevented. Allowing states to use federal funding for these programs will help decrease the spread of these diseases.

Locked up for Being Pregnant and HIV-Positive

By Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project at 12:24pm

I'm going to do things a little backwards here... Ordinarily, I would give you what is called a time served sentence, and...your time in prison would effectively end today....[However] I'm inclined to keep you in jail, given your medical condition…

Red Cross Report on Treatment of CIA Detainees Published

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 2:26pm

Last night, the New York Review of Books website published the International Committee of the Red Cross's (ICRC) 40-page report on the treatment of the 14 so-called "high-value detainees" (PDF) held at Guantánamo. This is especially…

Government Should Focus on HIV Prevention, Not Promoting One Set of Religious Beliefs

By Rose Saxe, AIDS Project at 2:12pm

It's admirable that the federal government provides money to help victims of human trafficking in the United States get their lives back through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Unfortunately, many trafficking victims have been raped, or…

New Administration Brings Opportunity to End HIV Discrimination at State Department

By Paul Cates, LGBT Project at 5:39pm

With all eyes focused on Hillary Clinton’s confirmation to the post of Secretary of State, we here at the ACLU are hopeful that there will be some changes in how the new leadership at the State Department treats people with HIV.

Late last…

Lifting the "Gag" on Trafficking Services

By Priscilla Huang, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum at 2:48pm

In 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded a multi-million dollar contract to the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to administer subgrants to organizations that directly serve trafficking survivors. Federal…

Respecting Individual Conscience

By Jon O'Brien, President, Catholics for Choice at 1:35pm

Victims of human trafficking must be ensured access to the reproductive health care they need. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act funds organizations that provide direct services to trafficking victims. However, the organization that administers…