Silla Brush, The Hill, November 4, 2009
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) is blaming Republican lawmakers for the District of Columbia’s high HIV/AIDS rate.
In a letter posted on her website, Norton lashed out at Republican efforts in recent years to attach riders to annual congressional spending bills that limited the District from using locally raised revenues to support needle exchange programs.
She said this explains “in large part” why the District has a higher HIV/AIDS rate than do similar cities.
The letter came in response to efforts by Republicans to seek a congressional probe into the high rate of HIV/AIDS in the District and the use of federal funds. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled on Friday for a staff briefing with D.C. city officials on the management of federal AIDS funding.
At least 3 percent of the District’s population has HIV or AIDS, a rate far above the national average of 1 percent, according to a 2008 report by D.C.’s HIV/AIDS Office reported by The Washington Post.
“When the Democrats assumed the majority in the 110th Congress, we removed the needle exchange ban and the District initiated a state-of-the-art exchange health program, but Republicans are again trying to attach a rider that would effectively end the program,” Norton wrote.
[Editors Note: Delegate Norton’s letter can be read on-line at her webiste here, where she calls herself a “congresswoman.”]