The Harm Reduction Action Center educates, empowers, and advocates for the health and dignity of Denver’s injection drug users. That's a mouthful, we know. And, if you're not familiar with harm reduction, it probably sounds a little counter-intuitive.
Here's what it actually means: we understand that the best way to have a positive impact on public health is to start with things we can change. Public Health, of course, means all of us. And harm reduction is just good public health. Did you know that here, in Denver, three out of four injection drug users are Hepatitis C positive and one in ten has HIV? Accidental overdoses along with communicable diseases are nearly 100% preventable with basic changes to public policy and health practices.
Why is this important? Because public health issues related to injection drug users are often deeply shrouded in secrecy and stigma. This has the unfortunate consequence of leading people to believe that the transmission of blood borne disease and accidental overdoses happens to strangers in dark and distant places. The truth is that these things happen to people from all walks of life. They happen to people we know and they happen in places we go.
The Harm Reduction Action Center makes changes in the most direct manner possible. We work with one of society’s most marginalized populations, which necessitates a creative programmatic approach that emphasizes building trust through the provision of safe, dignified, and culturally relevant low-barrier basic health services. Our programs work directly with folks to prevent and eliminate the transmission of HIV and viral hepatitis and to prevent accidental overdoses for those most at-risk in our community. We offer proven health programs and strategies including testing, health education classes, the state’s largest syringe access program, referrals, and advocacy services. Our lobbying efforts have been instrumental in the statewide passage of six pieces of legislation since 2010 and two city-wide policies including syringe access (fixed site and mobile), a 911 Good Samaritan law, and access to Naloxone.