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Milwaukee County considers cutting needle-exchange program

Milwaukee County considers cutting needle-exchange program

A plan by Milwaukee County executive Scott Walker to cut more than $230,000 from needle-exchange programs aimed at reducing HIV infections drew heavy criticism at the 13th annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin, held September 28 in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Doug Nelson, director of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, said the number of new HIV cases linked to intravenous drug use has dropped from about 80 a year to around 25 a year since the needle-exchange programs were implemented in 1994. County money is used to pay staff members who distribute clean needles but does not directly pay for the needles that are handed out. Walker, in announcing the proposed budget cut, said he does not approve of using "tax dollars to support illegal activity." He also said he does not consider AIDS prevention a "core function" of the county, saying it should be left to city or state health departments.

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