City Commission approves expansion of harm reduction efforts by the Grand Rapids Red Project
This morning the Grand Rapids City Commission approves a request by the Grand Rapids Red Project to expand its harm reduction services in the community. According to request the community-based group will “expand its currently existing syringe exchange program, for the purpose of reducing the spread of HIV / AIDS and other communicable diseases, among individuals who inject drugs by use of needles.”
The Commission approved the request unanimously, in part because the Red Project had substantial support from the community. The Commission had copies of letters from Heartside Ministries, former Mayor John Logie, Cares, the Michigan AIDS Coalition, Network 180, Pub 43, Life Guidance Services, Arbor Circle, the Kent County Health Department, The LGBT Network of Western Michigan and several area churches.
The other major factor in getting the approval is the impressive track record that the Red Project has in reducing and preventing drug overdose in Kent County. In a letter to the City Commission, Director of the Red Project Steve Alsum wrote, “According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, when Clean Works first received permission to operate, approximately 25% of all people with HIV/AIDS living in Kent County had contracted the disease through behavior related to injection drug use. As of April 2011, again according to the MDCH, only 10% of people living with HIV/AIDS in Kent County have contracted the disease through injection drug use.”
The Red Project staff is excited about the support from the City as they have plans to expand their services to areas of the City where injection drug use is prevalent. Alsum believes that they will be even better equipped to reduce the number of people who die from drug overdose, thus fulfilling their mission of harm reduction.