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Local group takes aim at federal health minister

A local AIDS organization is criticizing the federal government forallegedly dancing around the question of whether needle exchanges areviable means of preventing the spread of HIV.

A local AIDS organization is criticizing the federal government for allegedly dancing around the question of whether needle exchanges are viable means of preventing the spread of HIV.

Maxine Davis, executive director of Vancouver’s Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation, said Canada’s Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, “repeatedly failed to confirm her support” for the distribution of clean needles to curb the spread of disease.

The Minister was questioned on the subject at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

At the conference, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates both said on Monday that they support clean needle exchanges.

“But the health minister refuses to be a voice of leadership on this matter,” Davis said.

“While treatment services are important, so are clean needles. They save lives. Minister Aglukkaq’s refusal to endorse clean needle distribution is bizarre, considering the medical consensus around the issue.”