Will Obama's drug czar oppose needle exchange funding?

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Many AIDS activists have been excited about President-elect Barack Obama's election win, hoping the 44th president will bring a fresh urgency to combating the disease. Now, some are lining up against Obama's potential drug czar appointment.

Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., has been cited as a possible candidate for the job, which directs federal drug policy.

Even the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project executive director Vanessa Brocato noted in a recent e-mail to supporters that Ramstad "has been a leader in expanding drug treatment access and improving addiction awareness, and has publicly triumphed over addiction in his own life."

In that same e-mail, however, she urged folks to contact their elected officials "to not appoint a drug czar who has voted, time and again, to block access to sterile syringes for HIV prevention."

Among the objection actions, according to CHAMP, Ramstad has voted:

to make permanent the federal funding ban on syringe exchange, to ban Washington DC from spending its own locally raised funds on syringe exchange programs in 2000, and against lifting the same DC ban in 2007.

Obama pledged before the election to lift the funding ban on syringe exchange.

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