Dr. Clarie Sterk began our class discussion this week talking about HIV/AIDS and injection drug users (IDU). There are about 16 million people in the world that regularly inject drugs. This makes them susceptible to HIV, Hepatitis, and mental health issues. Some of the challenges when working with injection drug users within an HIV/AIDS context is that politics often override scientific evidence. Because drug use is illegal in the United States, and many people see drug use as immoral, it is harder to find advocates for programs that help IDUs like needle exchange programs. Dr. Sterk also talked about the differences between high and low threshold drug treatment and the importance of harm reduction.
Sandy Thurman talked about her experience as “AIDS Czar” for President Clinton and of her work with AID Atlanta. She discussed strategies for developing collaborations with unlikely partners like the Atlanta Council of Churches and Jessie Helms. She also talked about the importance of being creative, strategic, and dynamic when trying to move AIDS advocacy forward.
Reading for this week:
- “Out of Harm’s Way: Injecting Drug Users and Harm Reduction.” December 2010. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Advocacy Report.