271160 Supervised injection facilities in the United States: How close are we to making that a reality?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Laura Thomas, MPH, MPP , DPA, Drug Policy Alliance, San Francisco, CA
Issue: Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are recognized around the world as effective public health interventions: reducing HIV and hepatitis, overdose, and public drug use, and increasing entrance to substance use treatment. As of yet, there are no SIFs in the United States, and there are legal and political barriers to opening one, despite the clear evidence of their effectiveness. Description: Current organizing efforts are underway in San Francisco, CA, New York, NY, and New Mexico to frame SIFs for an American audience and build support for this evidence-based. A community coalition in San Francisco has been working to build political support for a SIF. In New Mexico, the state Senate passed a resolution requesting research on how to better address their overdose problem, including how SIFs could operate in the rural state. In The Bronx, a community organization is building a model SIF to educate community stakeholders. Lessons Learned: Each of these campaigns has learned how to present the public health research on SIFs to their audience, address community concerns, and how to build alliances with unlikely partners, such as law enforcement. All of them look to Canada for inspiration and data. In each locality, drug users have come to the fore as leaders and voices for change. Recommendations: Next steps include generating more interest and support among public health practitioners and policy makers for this evidence-based intervention; addressing the legal challenges; finding organizations and researchers interested in starting a SIF; and continuing to build the political will.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the campaigns to open a supervised injection facility in the U.S. Describe the barriers addressed by each campaign. Compare the successes achieved. Identify the strategies most likely to succeed in their locality.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Intravenous Drug Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in HIV/AIDS and public health in San Francisco for over 20 years. I have been leading local advocacy efforts on drug policy reform and HIV and hepatitis C prevention among drug users for the last four years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.