Monday, August 18, 2008

The Most At Risk Are The Hardest To Reach

The News Journal details the extent of our challenge in reaching a hidden and mistrustful population with the needle exchange. Though blacks remain hesitant to access the services, it's important to note our successes and how far we've come.

Before Wilmington got a needle-exchange program of its own, some addicts went to Philadelphia to get clean syringes from the exchange program there. In addition to needles, they brought back stories about police harassment near the vans that distribute them.

Those experiences make it hard to trust the Wilmington program, even though the relationship between its workers and police here has gone better than anyone could have expected, officials say.


"It's a fact that a needle-exchange program cannot reach the people it's trying to if there is not cooperation from the police department," Silverman said. "The cooperation we've had here has been outstanding. They're not using our vans as a mouse trap. No one has been arrested near the vans and no one has been followed and arrested down the block."


The program has exceeded its goals for clients and getting people into drug treatment centers.

And we have new strategies to reach those most at risk.

Silverman said she is formulating a plan, which she hopes to implement in the fall, that would get the program's current clients to go to shooting galleries and drug houses to recruit new members.

"Our team of workers are former addicts, former sex workers or have some connection to the communities we serve, but there are still places we can't go," she said.


Anonymous said...

I saw this in the paper today. What a well done, if unfortunate, story. Hopefully coverage of the NEP will help reach out to those who need it most.

-Jenn K. (formerly of Women in Transition)

Matt said...

I agree, Jenn, the article directly addressed the two major barriers of trust and access by stating the police will not arrest you, and including the site schedule. If that helps even one reader, it's worth it.