Clayton’s visit on Tuesday as the Community Engagement Director of Prevention Point Philadelphia was informative from a public health and economic perspective. Ruley began by outlining the key principles of harm reduction. Harm reduction designs and promotes public health interventions that minimize the harmful effects of drug use. Harm reduction also understands drug use as a complex issue that encompasses behaviors from severe abuse to total abstinence. I found this point to be important because harm reduction recognizes the reality of issues, and works to reduce harm through addiction and sex work, instead of solely trying to pull people out of those practices. Another principle was to meet people where they are in the course of their drug use and harm reduction affirms and empowers affected communities to be the primary agents of change.
Clayton also informed us on some of the services that Prevention Point provides that aren’t as advertised or well-known by the general population. For example, Ruley mentioned that at their routine needle exchanges they have wound-care kits and condoms available. I appreciate the anecdote he gave about a grandma regularly coming to get bandages for her grandson who scrapes his knees often. In terms of the sterile syringes they supply, I liked the economic statistics Clayton included in his presentation. He stated that $618,900 is the average economic cost of treatment for a person with HIV who is using antiretroviral drugs. $300,000 is the estimated lifetime cost for Hepatitis C treatment. From an exclusively economic perspective, it makes sense to take preventative measures to prevent the spread of Hep C and HIV.