Mission: Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, Inc. is a community-based wellness organization committed to improving the overall health and wellbeing of marginalized individuals and communities. AHRC provides education, risk reduction programs through partnerships, to empower adults in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of; substance use, HIV/AIDS, STIs, Hepatitis, and other communicable diseases.
Geographic areas served: Metro Atlanta
Programs: For ending year, december 31, 2014, ahrc operated the following programs:(i)hiv testing and linkage program: ahrc provides hiv testing, counseling, and linkage to care to individuals that reside in fulton and dekalb county. Ahrc is particularly dedicated to serving individuals that engage in high-risk behaviors such as substance use, sex work, and homelessness. Ahrc wants to specifically enhance hiv-positive individuals linkage to care, provide risk-reduction education, create a safe support group and offer intensive one-on-one case management services by a trained staff. During the one-on-one case management sessions, ahrc will assess the client's full range of needs and then link them to care and services from within ahrc's partnership network. This goes beyond referrals. The ahrc case manager will work with the clients to address barriers to utilization that interfere with that person accessing services such as lack of transportation, economic hardships, improper documentation and other obstacles that the trained and experienced case manager can effectively navigate. (ii)prevention point: ahrcs prevention point needle exchange program is designed for high-risk persons impacted by substance addiction, especially african americans who are disproportionately impacted by hiv and communicable diseases. This program targets active substance and sex workers on the corners of james p. Brawley and jett streets in northwest atlanta, an area where members of the target population congregate. The program goals are to reduce the harm of transmission of hiv/aids, hepatitis c through education, prevention intervention (condom and literature distribution) and other resources that plant the seeds toward behavior change. The proposed efforts will support the organization to address the syringe exchange and health promotion needs of idu, sex workers who use drugs, alcoholics and those re-entering from prison/jail who revert to old behaviors. (iii)advocacy: ahrcs advocacy project is to pursue "specific" policy improvements or law reform to protect and advance the rights, health, and dignity of persons living with and affected by hiv/aids. Also, the advocacy project has developed a speaker network which helps educate policy makers. (iv) 911 medical amnesty law and naloxone access program: after the former 2014 hb 965 was signed into law [o. C. G. A. 16-13-5] on april 24, 2014, ahrc has been educating the public about the 911 medical amnesty [or 911 good samaritan] law and distributing naloxone kits for reversing opioid overdoses to those in need. (v) hepatitis c prevention program: hepatitis c prevention program is a comprehensive program that aims at prevention and treatment of hcv through offering guidelines to individuals in identifying their hepatitis c status, providing education and helping in facilitate behavior changes that will reduce their risk of acquiring or transmitting the hepatitis c virus, and providing support groups and linkage to care for hepatitis c positive individuals.
I have been volunteering with the harm reduction center for about 9 months. This organization holds human dignity at the center of its operation. From the day of my orientation, I was shown that AHRC takes people where they are at that day, provides the services available, and offers authentic explanations referrals and understanding when there is something they cannot provide a visitor. As a volunteer, I am acknowledged and valued every week i show up, and that is a wonderful feeling.
The concept of harm reduction does not get much play in the world of recovery, and that is another reason I love AHRC. Because harm reduction is the real time response to what is actually going on with people. They acknowledge the truth about issues faced by people who use drugs and have sex.
Another great thing about AHRC is that it recognizes the contexts of people's lives. In the neighborhood where AHRC operates it would be a farce to tell people to "just say no" when many people live without their basic needs being met. AHRC makes a dollar out of fifteen cents, and makes sure people get fed, clothed, and have a place to talk about what is going on.
One last thing I love about AHRC is the way that they don't make you answer a million irrelevant questions before providing service. They get the information they need but do not ask a person to disclose highly personal things on the first visit, like some social service agencies.
In 2009 I met Jeffrey McDowell at a meeting where he vocally advocated for inclusion of his constituent base in our upcoming English Avenue First Annual Festival of Lights. Drawn by his passionate advocacy, I arranged a meeting and discovered this awesome group of people working and advocating 24/7 for the poorest, most needy in English Avenue, especially, and beyond. I got new education on needle exchange. I met awesome people transformed by the work of this team. I fell in love with the people and the mission of AHRC. I am here to support, encourage, undergird and advance the work of AHRC and the spirits of its staff and other volunteers.
Mamie Moore, volunteer Administrative Assistant
English Avenue Community Development Corporation
I first began working with the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center as part of a project for my MBA program. A team of MBA students and I developed a strategy to help improve the organization's external communications.
As a student of healthcare management with some understanding of the state of healthcare needs in the Atlanta area, I was immediately drawn to this organization's mission. The AHRC and its staff help to improve the health status of one of the most depressed communities I've seen in Atlanta. And they do so in a culturally competent and compassionate manner.
Many of the people helped by the AHRC often return as volunteers, which speaks to the quality of the services offered and speaks to the quality of the client experience.
Because of their success in helping to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission and drug addiction in this often forgotten northwest Atlanta community, the AHRC has become an essential component of the Atlanta public health system.