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ID: 1176

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Practice

Topics: Community Mobilisation and Organising; Harm Reduction Services and Service Provision

Presenting author: Emma Roberts

Presenting author biography:

Director of Capacity Building Services at Harm Reduction Coalition, managing the provision of TA support programs across the USA. From the UK, Emma started in Harm Reduction work in 1996 working in a syringe exchange. She has coordinated a syringe exchange and mobile health program operating across New York City.

Embracing Harm Reduction in Conservative Heartlands of the US: Lessons learned from Austin, Indiana and communities across the US mid-west impacted by increasing Hepatitis C rates & new HIV outbreaks among People Who Inject Drugs.

Emma Roberts

Issue: In January 2015, news of an HIV affecting the small rural community in of Austin, Indiana started to emerge. Of the 190 people infected so far, 80% are also co-infected with Hepatitis C. Austin, located 30 miles from Louisville, Kentucky saw a response that has galvanized communities across the mid-west facing similar circumstances to consider harm reduction in a new way. Since then syringe access programs have been developed in, previously, very conservative areas that never thought or acknowledged their need for services including Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Ohio.
Setting: Rural communities in the US mid-west.
Project: In May 2015, the Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, approved syringe access for the state after stalling for 5 months. Since then, Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC) has been at the forefront of supporting impacted communities in the development of Syringe Access Services (SAS) through the provision of technical assistance related to strategic planning and cultural competency for engaging People Who Use Drugs into services.
Outcome: Since May 2015, SAS have opened or are about to open across these states. In Louisville, KY and Huntington, WV, both received comprehensive training and TA packages provided by HRC and saw 3600 and 1900 syringe access participants (respectively) in their first year of operation.
This presentation will provide participants with an overview of the background to the outbreak and the community mobilization strategic planning tools, training and technical assistance provided to support the development of appropriate cultural competency and best practice among staff, agencies and communities new to harm reduction. Attendee’s will be provided with resources they can take back and apply to their communities, whether new or seasoned in harm reduction, to establish, evaluate and expand services to people who use drugs in a way that genuinely applies the principles of harm reduction.