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Harm Reduction: Los Angeles County Okays Needle Exchange Program

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $500,000 needle exchange program Tuesday. The board approved the harm reduction measure, which is designed to save lives and dollars by reducing the rate of spread of blood-borne diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis B and C, on a 3-2 vote.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/needle-exchange-logo.gif
widely-used syringe exchange logo
The city of Los Angeles and seven California counties already have approved needle exchange programs. Los Angeles County has an estimated 120,000 to 190,000 drug injectors, nearly half of whom are estimated to share needles.

The new needle exchanges targeting heroin users will be at the Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Bienestar Human Services, Common Ground-The Westside HIV Community Center, Public Health Foundation Enterprises (and through them, Clean Needles Now) and Tarzana Treatment Centers.

Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe voted against the program. "The problem that we have here is you're having the government be in a position of sponsoring a known drug that could lead to death and leads to dependence," Antonovich said. "I would rather put our money into rehabilitation and education encouraging a drug-free society instead of being politically correct and helping addicts remain addicts," he said.

But Supervisor Gloria Molina defended the program, saying its aim is to prevent AIDS. "This is a very simple program that's had unbelievable success, and it's unfortunate (that) it is not supposed to address, and it does not address, the rehabilitation of drug users. All it does is, hopefully, address the issue of prevention of HIV," Molina said.

Job Listing: Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC) Offering Syringe Exchange Program Specialist Position

The Syringe Exchange Program Specialist will be responsive to the technical assistance and training needs of California Syringe Exchange Programs and Local Health Jurisdictions. Candidates must possess organizational skills, training and technical assistance expertise and hands on experience with community-based syringe access. Experience with community organizing and familiarity with local service providers and communities preferred. The salary range is $43,000-$46,000 per year. Responsibilities include coordinating activities related to syringe access as well as intake of training and technical requests, responding to training and technical assistance requests within 48 hours, coordinating individual level plan for syringe exchange program in need, providing technical assistance on implementation strategies, developing regional, individual and group trainings, maintaining relationships with consultants and contract consultants on an "as needed" basis, attending staff and program meetings, working in tandem with HRC's other projects to organize and consolidate materials, publications, curricula, and fact sheets, and additional duties as required. Ideal candidates are highly organized, independent thinkers with capacity to operationalize systems and streamline information through several projects. HRC values candidates with a strong work ethic, common sense, humor, and a commitment to human rights and social justice issues. Please email your resume and cover letter to mcquie@harmreduction.org or fax to (510) 444-6977. No phone calls please. We are hiring immediately, so please act quickly if you are interested in the position. People of color, formerly incarcerated people, and people with histories of substance use are encouraged to apply. HRC is EOE and offers a competitive salary with decent health benefits. Background: The Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC) promotes the health and human rights of people who use drugs by advocating for effective policy responses to fight HIV, hepatitis C, overdose deaths, and drug addiction. Since its inception in 1994, HRC has grown from a small group of syringe exchange activists concerned about preventing HIV, into the leader of a rapidly growing grassroots movement, shaping current public health and drug policy toward practical, compassionate harm reduction interventions. HRC provides technical assistance, training, and capacity building to support existing syringe exchange programs, health departments and community-based organizations in California. The goal is to expand syringe access in rural and urban areas.
Location: 
CA
United States

Job Listing: Syringe Exchange, Harm Reduction Coalition, California

The Syringe Exchange Program Specialist will be responsive to the technical assistance and training needs of California Syringe Exchange Programs and Local Health Jurisdictions. Candidates must possess organizational skills, training and technical assistance expertise and hands on experience with community-based syringe access. Experience with community organizing and familiarity with local service providers and communities preferred. The salary range is $43,000-$46,000 per year.

Responsibilities include coordinating activities related to syringe access as well as intake of training and technical requests, responding to training and technical assistance requests within 48 hours, coordinating individual level plan for syringe exchange programs in need, providing technical assistance on implementation strategies, developing regional, individual and group trainings, maintaining relationships with consultants and contract consultants on an "as needed" basis, attending staff and program meetings, working in tandem with HRC's other projects to organize and consolidate materials, publications, curricula, and fact sheets, and additional duties as required.

Ideal candidates are highly organized, independent thinkers with capacity to operationalize systems and streamline information through several projects. HRC values candidates with a strong work ethic, common sense, humor, and a commitment to human rights and social justice issues.

Please e-mail your resume and cover letter to mcquie@harmreduction.org or fax to (510) 444-6977. No phone calls please. HRC is hiring immediately, so please act quickly if you are interested in the position.

People of color, formerly incarcerated people, and people with histories of substance use are encouraged to apply. HRC is EOE and offers a competitive salary with decent health benefits.

Background:

The Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC) promotes the health and human rights of people who use drugs by advocating for effective policy responses to fight HIV, hepatitis C, overdose deaths, and drug addiction. Since its inception in 1994, HRC has grown from a small group of syringe exchange activists concerned about preventing HIV, into the leader of a rapidly growing grassroots movement, shaping current public health and drug policy toward practical, compassionate harm reduction interventions. HRC provides technical assistance, training, and capacity building to support existing syringe exchange programs, health departments and community-based organizations in California. The goal is to expand syringe access in rural and urban areas.

LA Supervisors expected to approve needle exchange

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
KESQ News Channel 3 (CA)
URL: 
http://www.kesq.com/Global/story.asp?S=6218081&nav=9qrx

Job Opportunity: Syringe Exchange Program Specialist, CA

The Harm Reduction Coalition is listing a job opportunity in California for a Syringe Exchange Program Specialist. The Syringe Exchange Program Specialist will be responsive to the technical assistance and training needs of California Syringe Exchange Programs and Local Health Jurisdictions. He/she must possess organizational skills, training and technical assistance expertise and hands on experience with community-based syringe access. Experience with community organizing and familiarity with local service providers and communities is preferred. This position is based in Oakland, CA, but Los Angeles may be a possibility for the right candidate. Responsibilities include coordinating activities related to syringe access, coordinating intake of training and technical requests, responding to training and technical assistance requests within 48 hours, coordinate individual level plan for syringe exchange program in need, providing technical assistance on implementation strategies, developing regional, individual and group trainings, maintaining relationships with consultants and contract consultants on an "as needed" basis, attending staff and program meetings, and performing additional duties as required. Ideal candidates are highly organized, independent thinkers with capacity to operationalize systems and streamline information through several projects. HRC values candidates with a strong work ethic, common sense, humor, and a commitment to human rights and social justice issues. The salary is $43,000-46,000 per year. How to Apply: Please e-mail your resume and cover letter to mcquie@harmreduction.org or fax to (510) 444-6977. No phone calls please. HRC is hiring immediately, so please act quickly if you are interested in the position. People of color, formerly incarcerated people, and people with histories of substance use are encouraged to apply. HRC is EOE and offers a competitive salary with decent health benefits.
Location: 
CA
United States

Job Opportunity: Syringe Exchange Program Specialist, CA

The Harm Reduction Coalition is listing a job opportunity in California for a Syringe Exchange Program Specialist. The Syringe Exchange Program Specialist will be responsive to the technical assistance and training needs of California Syringe Exchange Programs and Local Health Jurisdictions. He/she must possess organizational skills, training and technical assistance expertise and hands on experience with community-based syringe access. Experience with community organizing and familiarity with local service providers and communities is preferred. This position is based in Oakland, CA, but Los Angeles may be a possibility for the right candidate.

Responsibilities include coordinating activities related to syringe access, coordinating intake of training and technical requests, responding to training and technical assistance requests within 48 hours, coordinate individual level plan for syringe exchange program in need, providing technical assistance on implementation strategies, developing regional, individual and group trainings, maintaining relationships with consultants and contract consultants on an "as needed" basis, attending staff and program meetings, and performing additional duties as required.

Ideal candidates are highly organized, independent thinkers with capacity to operationalize systems and streamline information through several projects. HRC values candidates with a strong work ethic, common sense, humor, and a commitment to human rights and social justice issues. The salary is $43,000-46,000 per year.

How to Apply: Please e-mail your resume and cover letter to mcquie@harmreduction.org or fax to (510) 444-6977. No phone calls please. HRC is hiring immediately, so please act quickly if you are interested in the position.

People of color, formerly incarcerated people, and people with histories of substance use are encouraged to apply. HRC is EOE and offers a competitive salary with decent health benefits.

Harm Reduction Coalition statement: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Harm Reduction Coalition Statement: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, 2007 The HIV/AIDS crisis among African Americans demands increased commitment, innovative strategies, and coordinated action by government, community-based organizations, civic and religious groups, and the African American community. African Americans make up nearly half of all AIDS cases in the United States, and over half of new HIV diagnoses. The majority of women and infants living with HIV are African American. The most striking feature of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among African Americans is the role of structural factors that drive high HIV prevalence.� A range of studies indicate that African Americans across various categories - adult and adolescent heterosexuals, men who have sex with men, injection drug users - do not have higher rates of sexual and drug-related risks than whites. African Americans are just as, if not more, likely as whites to use condoms, limit numbers of sexual partners, avoid sharing syringes, and test for HIV. Higher rates of HIV among African Americans do not reflect higher levels of risk: the narrow focus in HIV prevention on individual behavior change has failed African Americans by ignoring the structural context of poverty and homelessness, disparities in education and health care, and high rates of incarceration among blacks. The cumulative and reinforcing impact of these social and political forces create a vortex of vulnerability directly responsible for the current HIV crisis among African Americans. Solutions to the African American HIV/AIDS epidemic must ultimately recognize and redress the lethal effect of these structural disparities. Such efforts demand courage and commitment; the recommendations below require significant investments matched with political will and leadership. Yet failure to act has already exacted too high a price. We cannot afford delay. Changing the Course of the African American HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Ways Forward Reduce the high rate of incarceration among black males. Research and experience demonstrate clear links between HIV prevalence and high rates of incarceration among African Americans. Incarceration results in disruption of families and communities, social exclusion and diminished life opportunities, and pervasive despair and fatalism - an ideal environment for HIV to flourish. Draconian drug laws and law enforcement practices targeting African Americans lead to astronomical numbers of black men caught up in the criminal justice system, with catastrophic results for public health, civil rights, and social justice. We must reverse this tide by challenging mandatory minimum sentencing that removes judicial discretion, disparities in sentencing laws between crack and cocaine, and racial profiling in marijuana arrests. We must broaden alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug-related offenses, including drug courts and diversion to treatment. Combat stigma, promote HIV testing, and reduce disparities in HIV care and treatment. Interlocking forms of stigma surrounding HIV, drug use, and sex and sexuality perpetuate a climate of silence, fear, and self-hatred that deters HIV testing and disclosure. Disparities in health care access and quality and the scarcity of non-judgmental, culturally competent HIV clinicians result in poor HIV care and greater mortality among African Americans, further reinforcing stigma and hopelessness. We must simultaneously address the cultural and systemic barriers to HIV testing, care and treatment among African Americans. Increase knowledge, diagnosis, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. Research indicates that sexually transmitted infections facilitate HIV transmission, and that rates of these infections are higher in African Americans. Efforts to address sexually transmitted infections include education on symptom recognition, screening in community settings, and expedited partner therapy (where patients deliver treatment to their partners). Increase availability of syringe exchange programs. Syringe exchange is highly effective at preventing HIV without increasing drug use. Greater access to sterile syringes among African Americans requires new and expanded syringe exchange programs and improved access to addiction treatment. The African American community and leadership has largely set aside historical debates and divisions around syringe exchange. Now, the federal government must act to lift the federal ban on syringe exchange funding; and criminal laws against possession of syringes and drug paraphernalia must be rescinded as inconsistent with public health. Address structural determinants of risk that fuel the epidemic. We cannot successfully implement HIV interventions in the black community without first addressing the structural, social and economic factors that perpetuate marginalization and risk. We must eradicate poverty by promoting economic stability and reducing income inequalities, providing quality education and job creation, ensuring universal health care, and creating affordable housing. These efforts must be grounded in a broad political mandate to address racism, gender inequality, homophobia and classism in the United States. Harm Reduction Coalition, February 2007
Location: 
United States

A Good Thing for Addicts and D.C.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Washington Post
URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/06/AR2007020601680.html

Second National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis Underway in Salt Lake City

Around a thousand people, including some of the nation's foremost experts in treating, researching and developing responses to methamphetamine use, gathered at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City as Science and Response: The 2nd Annual Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV and Hepatitis got underway Thursday. Sponsored by the Salt Lake City-based Harm Reduction Project, the conference aimed at developing evidence-based "best practices" for responding to meth and emphasized prevention and treatment instead of prison for
meth offenders.

This year's conference was uncontroversial -- a marked change from the first one, also held in Salt Lake City, which was attacked by congressional arch-drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) because presenters openly discussed the impact of meth on the gay community. Souder was also incensed that the US Department of Health and Human Services provided limited financial support for the conference, and authored a successful amendment to the appropriations bill funding the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy calling for an investigation of the conference and HHS policy.

"The fact that there is absolutely no controversy this year indicates more than just a leadership change in Congress. It shows that our approach -- bringing together all the stakeholders and families affected by meth -- is the right one," said Harm Reduction Project executive director Luciano Colonna in a statement on the eve of the conference.

While Colonna sounded sanguine in the statement above, he was less so as he opened the conference Thursday morning. Visibly choking up at times as he sounded the theme of this year's conference, "500 Days Later," he noted that since the first conference in August 2005, "thousands have died or been incarcerated." And Colonna could not resist a reference to Souder and ideological allies in Congress. "There's no need to mention the names of cheap mudslingers because their party lost," he said to loud applause.

"I'm tired of seeing meth users incarcerated because of failed theories and practices followed by many treatment providers, faith-based groups and other organizations," Colonna said. "We look to the criminal justice system to solve our problems, and its participation has been a result of our failure. Just as with the homeless, veterans, and the mentally ill, we have failed as a system of care and as a country. We have the audacity to attack the criminal justice system as if the strands of this mess can be separated out, but we are all culpable."

If Colonna wasn't going to name names, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson had no such compunctions. As he welcomed attendees to his city, Anderson hit back. "I will say Souder's name," Anderson proclaimed. "We shouldn't ever forget the people who caused so much damage. They don't care that needle exchange programs help injection drug users avoid HIV; they have the attitude that if people use drugs, they deserve what they get. People like Mark Souder would rather make political hay out of tragedy rather than having the integrity to deal with issues based on facts and research."

Citing drug use surveys that put the number of people who used meth within the last year at 1.3 million and the number who used within the last month at 500,000, Anderson pointed out that, "If it were up to Souder, they would all be in prison."

Mayor Anderson, a strong drug reform proponent, had a better idea. "Those numbers are the purest case for harm reduction," he argued. "We know there are people who will use drugs and we can reduce the harm, not only for them and their families, but for all of us. The current approach is so wasteful and cost ineffective. And thanks to you, treatment programs are much more available, but in too many areas, you have to get busted to get affordable treatment. It is time to make treatment on demand available for everybody," he said to sustained cheering and applause.

Given the topic of the conference, it is not surprising that attendees are a different mix than what one would expect at a strictly drug reform conference. While drug reformers were present in respectable numbers -- the Drug Policy Alliance in particular had a large contingent -- they are outnumbered by harm reductionists, treatment providers and social service agency workers. Similarly, with the event's emphasis on "Science and Reason," the panels were heavy with research results and presentations bearing names like "Adapting Gay-Affirmative, Evidence-Based Interventions for Use in a Community-Based Drug Treatment Clinic," "Stimulant Injectors From Three Ukraine Cities," and "The Impact of Meth Use on Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities for Youth in Canada."

The mix of interests and orientations led to some fireworks at the first conference, especially around the issue of stimulant maintenance therapy, or providing meth users with a substitute stimulant, such as dextroamphetamine, much as heroin users are prescribed methadone. Such issues may excite controversy again this year, but an opening day panel on the topic caused only a few raised eyebrows -- not any outbursts of indignation. The controversy is likely to come in Vancouver, where Mayor Sam Sullivan recently announced he wanted to implement an amphetamine maintenance pilot program with some 700 subjects.

With three full days of plenaries, panels, breakout session, and workshops, last weekend's conference not only provided information on best practices for educators, prevention workers, and treatment providers, but also helped broaden the rising chorus of voices calling for more enlightened methamphetamine policies. In addition, the conference pointed the Chronicle to a number of meth-related issues that bear further reporting, from the spread of repressive legislation in the states to the effort to expand drug maintenance therapies to stimulant drugs like meth and the resort of some states to criminalizing pregnant drug-using mothers. Look for reports on these topics in the Chronicle in coming weeks.

The Salt Lake Methamphetamine Conference Gets Underway

EDITOR'S NOTE: I tried to post this Friday morning from the Hilton in Salt Lake City, but due to some mysterious problem with the internets, it didn't get through. The 2nd National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis is now in its second day. The Hilton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City is doing an admirable job of dealing with the influx of treatment providers, social service workers, needle exchangers, speed freaks, drug company representatives, academics, researchers, and politicos who have flooded into the hotel for three days of plenaries, panels, workshops, and breakout sessions on various aspects of the methamphetamine phenomenon. For me, a lot of the sessions and presentations are of limited interest, which is not to say they have no value, only that they are directed at people who are doing the hands-on work in the field. As someone interested in drug policy reform and, frankly, legalizing meth and everything else, the differences in behavior or susceptibility to treatment between gay urban speed freaks and rural hetero speed freaks is not really that important to me. Ditto for comparisons of different treatment modalities. Again, I'm not saying this stuff is unimportant, only that it's not what I'm about. I'm much more interested in the politics of meth, the methods of blunting repressive, reactionary responses from the state, and the ways of means of crafting more enlightened policies. For all the progress we have made in the drug reform arena in the past decade or so, it seems like all someone has to do is shout "Meth!" and we are once again in the realm of harsh sentencing, repressive new legislation, and drug war mania reminiscent of the crack days of the 1980s. That's why it's so heartening to see political figures like Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson stand front and center for enlightened responses to meth use and abuse. Of course, it isn't just Rocky. Here in the Salt Lake Valley, state and local officials from the governor on down are attempting a progressive response, whether it's the governor lobbying for more money for treatment or local prosecutors practicing restorative justice. And it's not just Utah. Cut across the Four Corners into New Mexico, and you find another state where officials are rejecting harsh, repressive measures and instead seeking to educate youth and adults alike with evidence-based curricula. As one measure of the changing status quo, the Drug Policy Alliance is getting involved in the Land of Enchantment. It has been selected by the state government to administer a $500,000 grant to develop prevention and education curricula. I find it just a little bit ironic that I'm sitting in Salt Lake at this major meth conference just as SAMSHA puts out an analysis of national survey data showing that meth use is declining after about a decade a stable usage patterns. There was a significant drop in the number of new meth users between 2004 and 2005 and a steady decline in past year meth users since 2002. Despite all the hoopla, meth users now account for only 8% of all drug treatment admissions. Meth crisis? While there is no denying the social and personal problems that can and do result from excessive resort to the stimulant, it seems like there is less to it than meets the eye. Still, it has the politicians and funding agencies riled up enough to cough up money for programs and conferences and the like. I guess we'll take what we can get.
Location: 
Salt Lake City, UT
United States

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