The Harm Reduction Program grew out of emerging evidence that syringe exchange reduces HIV transmission. Started in 1995, this program links participants with needed educational, risk-reduction, support, and treatment services. The primary goal of the Harm Reduction Program is to reduce the HIV transmission among injecting drug users (IDUs), and their partners.
It is estimated that there are over 240,000 injection drug users (IDUs) in New York City, and in addition, research data has established a significant link between injecting drug use and HIV / Hepatitis C infections. This alarming public health issue creates a critical need for appropriate services to improve IDU’s health, prevent disease, reduce deaths and address addiction among this population who find themselves marginalized from basic health services. Through programs like ours, the rate of HIV infection among injecting drug users has been significantly reduced by more than 66%. In addition, Hepatitis C infection is also alarming among injection drug users, with a 50-60% infection rate.
The Harm Reduction Program provides HIV and HEP C counseling & testing services several days a week, at both of our Brooklyn locations (1751 Broadway, and 1721 Pitkin Ave). Our Mental Health Social Worker also facilitates mental health support groups, as well as, provides mental health counseling, to our clients coping with mental issues in addition to their HIV infection.
In order to meet the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among this population, the agency hired highly trained, culturally competent staff in the substance abuse field who provide a non-judgmental approach and welcoming environment to substance abusers and their partners, meeting them at whatever stage in life they may be. The program links our clients to a broad spectrum of services designed to assist in achieving basic stability in their lives. In addition to providing clients with clean syringes, they are offered individual counseling, prevention education, mental health, and referrals to substance abuse treatment. Staff also conducts overdose prevention education, along with the distribution of naloxone kits and condoms.
• HIV counseling and testing
• Intake and needs assessment
• Mental health support group and individual counseling
• Street Recruitment and outreach – targeted pre and perinatal outreach
• Syringe exchange – information and equipment for self-care and cleaning “works”
• Supportive services referrals – health care, social services, substance abuse treatment
and HIV case management
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