Good news first:
The House of Representatives finally lifted the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs! They passed an appropriations bill without that nasty little sentence...
It was a close vote, too, 218 to 211 so thanks and congratulations to everyone who worked on this, whether it was emailing or calling their Representative, writing a letter to the editor, sitting down for a meeting with a Representative's office, attending a demonstration, or even getting arrested in the US Capitol Building. It's been 20 years of hard work, but it paid off...
Now the bad news:
The House of Representatives included language restricting where needle exchanges can occur. Specifically, they can't be within 1000 feet of any school, daycare, playground, park, pool, video arcade, or youth center.
Practically this means there is literally nowhere they can operate in most urban neighborhoods. Want proof? Check out these maps...
Zoomed in on one of the neighborhoods where you might have thought you could squeeze something in -- note how even more schools show up and you realize nope, it's really impossible:
Just in case you thought it was Philly-specific, here's South East Washington DC:
And in case you're thinking this will only be a problem on the East Coast, here's downtown Des Moines, IA:
All of these maps were created by using Google Earth to locate all of the schools, daycares, playgrounds, parks, pools, video arcades, and youth centers within a town, and then using Geometer's Sketchpad to draw 1000-foot radius circles around each location. If you know of an easier way to do this, please comment!
Also, feel free to use these maps, but please give credit to ACT UP Philly and this blog. http://actupphilly.blogspot.com
Finally, if you'd like me to make a map of your city or town, please leave a comment.