Community programs often receive some public dollars, but rarely enough to cover needed services and materials. Here’s how you can help three programs prevent overdose deaths and stem the spread of HIV infections:
Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC) works in states and at the federal level to advance support of overdose prevention and clean syringe access. It also provides capacity-building services to state agencies and nonprofits seeking to implement programs in their own communities. For example, HRC’s recent work in Colorado helped create three new naloxone distribution sites. In April 2015, one site distributed 400 kits and reported 155 overdose reversals since its start in May 2012. HRC also piloted overdose prevention within the San Francisco County Jail, placing naloxone kits in trained inmate’s property for access upon release. By July 2014, almost 200 inmates had opted to receive naloxone kits in their property. Visit HRC’s Get Involved webpage for ways to donate, or help in other creative ways such as performing at a fundraiser, hosting an event, or sponsoring a charity walk/run.
Prevention Point Pittsburgh (PP Pittsburgh) distributes naloxone directly to drug users in the community and trains them to reduce overdose risk, recognize overdose signs, and reverse overdoses. In just under a decade, PP Pittsburgh dispensed 2,298 naloxone kits to 1,175 individuals, leading to a reported 1,167 successful overdose reversals. Roughly 1 in 15 of those would have been fatal.
For PP Pittsburgh the cost of training and naloxone together ranges from $40 to $55, which means that for $1,200 to $1,600—about the cost of the average yearly cable bill—they can save a life that would have been lost to painkillers or heroin. Nationwide, the cost of naloxone can vary from $12 to $75 per kit, depending on the location, formulation, and training costs. You can contribute to PP Pittsburgh via its donor page or by enrolling in Amazon’s Smile program that gives a portion of your purchases as a donation.
Prevention Point Philadelphia (PP Philly, unaffiliated with Prevention Point Pittsburgh) serves more than 4,500 regular clients and distributes some 1.5 million syringes each year. It also provides HIV and Hepatitis C testing services, rudimentary healthcare (including a wound clinic requested by its clients), naloxone and overdose prevention training, case management, and referrals to social services and drug treatment.
In addition, PP Philly offers auxiliary services to meet local needs. For example, in 2015, the organization partnered with a local shelter organization to provide 25 emergency beds for homeless men. Clients can also use PP Philly as a mailing address. The organization has a team of 15 paid staff and approximately 200 volunteers operating out of a fixed site in Philadelphia’s North Kensington neighborhood, and from six designated locations via its mobile van, all of which is supported by an annual operating syringe program budget of under $400,000. Visit its donations and volunteer page here.