266230 Harm reduction advocates and law enforcement officers: Unlikely partners or natural allies? Evidence from North Carolina

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 12:45 PM - 1:00 PM

Corey Davis, JD, MSPH , National Health Law Program, Carrboro, NC
Lisa Zerden, MSW, PhD , School of Social Work, University of North Carolina Chapel HIll, Chapel HIll, NC
Robert Childs, MPH , North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, Durham, NC
Tessie Castillo , North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, Durham, NC
Injection drug use accounts for around 10% of all new HIV infections and around 25% of all AIDS cases in the United States. Particularly hard hit is the South, which has more people living with HIV and dying of AIDS than any other region in the U.S. Similar to national trends, North Carolina minority communities are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. Evidence has shown that syringe exchange programs (SEPs) are an effective public health prevention strategy that can reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among IDUs and their partners. However, large-scale roll-out of these public health programs has been stymied by lack of evidence-based policy and opposition from members of law enforcement. Previous studies have shown that SEPs reduce the risk of needlestick injury among law enforcement officers (LEOs), and that LEOs may be receptive to learning about SEPs. This presentation will present data from a pilot training conducted with officers and other personnel from five diverse law enforcement agencies in North Carolina (n=100). The training presents evidence on the effectiveness of SEPs in reducing blood-borne disease infection among both IDUs and LEOs. It also describes the other positive public health effects of SEPs on IDUs, their partners and the communities in which they live, including their effectiveness in providing services to difficult to reach individuals and acting as a bridge to drug treatment and social services. Findings suggest that LEOs are receptive to learning about the efficacy of SEPs and that trainings may be effective in changing attitudes towards them.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1) Explain how harm reduction and law enforcement share common goals of community safety and health 2) Discuss how syringe exchange programs reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases among injection drug users, their partners, and law enforcement officers. 3) List 3 alternative benefits of syringe exchange programs at the micro, mezzo and macro systems.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Needle Exchange

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered