NEEDLE EXCHANGE: Philanthropist Pledges $1 Million In Support
For the second straight year, billionaire philanthropist George Soros will donate $1 million to needle-exchange programs for drug addicts across the United States, the New York Times reports. While Soros has been considering such a move for some weeks, he "advanced the announcement to yesterday after the Clinton administration refused on Monday" to lift a ban on federal funding for such programs. The contribution will "match increases by other philanthropists and private foundations for what Mr. Soros called 'these lifesaving programs.'" The matching offer "is open to needle-exchange programs across the country that find new financing from other sources." The $1 million could buy between 5 and 10 million new syringes for drug users, at 10 to 20 cents per needle.
Making Money Talk
The Times reports that to date, Soros has spent over $20 million "trying to change the way Americans think about illegal drugs," chiefly through the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy research center which he funds (Wren, 4/24). Mr. Soros said, "Over half of all AIDS cases involving children are directly related to unclean syringes. It has been scientifically proven, and the federal government agrees, that making sterile syringes readily available to addicts reduces the spread of HIV and does not encourage drug use." Lindesmith Center director Ethan Nadelmann said, "The U.S. is virtually alone among advanced, industrialized nations in prohibiting the funding of needle exchange programs. It is now up to individuals, philanthropic groups, and state and local governments to fill the void left by the federal government" (release, 4/23).