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  1. 1. [ Log In ] [ CNDLS Poster Tool Home ] [ Poster Listing] 2006-2007 | PreventionWorks! PreventionWorks! 2006-2007 1407 S Street, NW 202-588-5580 Washington, DC 20009
  2. 2. Even though needle exchange seems to have a bad reputation, and many believe it actually promotes drug use, the facts prove otherwise. Where needle exchange programs have been implemented, rates of HIV actually decrease AND more drug users sign up for drug treatment programs. Though some might consider the method unorthodox, these programs are safe, effective, and really do make a difference in people's lives. ~John Dzundza Service Learning Team Members: Erica Adams Dermont Maher Julie Dunderdale Meaghan Nelan
  3. 3. John Dzundza Zach Wallace Lauren Mabanta Paul Weisbruch Faculty Team Leader: Mary Beth Levin Key Community Partners: Ron Daniels, Program Manager Paolo Barahona, Executive Director our mission Our mission: Our team worked with the organization PreventionWorks! to reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases through contaminated needle use among drug addicts in Washington, DC. Specifically, we individually volunteered on the PreventionWorks! mobile van that travels to communities throughout DC, providing clean needles to injection drug user in exchange for dirty needles. The main goal of this program is harm-reduction. In other words, PreventionWorks! does not encourage drug use, but instead, provides a safe way for people, who would use drugs with or without this type of program, to inject drugs. As a result, PreventionWorks! decreases the spread of disease, such as HIV/AIDS. In addition to assisting with the needle exchange, we put together safe sex and safe smoking kits that are also distributed on the van. These kits are important since PreventionWorks! does not only focus on injection drug users but also considers anyone who might be at risk for contracting a blood-borne disease, for
  4. 4. instance, a sexual partner of a drug user or a crack smoker. About PreventionWorks!: PreventionWorks! is the only needle exchange program in the Washington DC area. Its purpose is to provide harm-reduction, decreasing the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. In the1990s, a federal law was passed, prohibiting the use of public funds for needle exchange programs. PreventionWorks!, funded exclusively by private funds, was founded in response. Since its start on December 2, 1998, each year PreventionWorks! has reached more and more people, now serving approximately 2,000 individuals. Mostly, PreventionWorks! provides services to its clients through a mobile van that visits eleven sites throughout DC, where injection drug use is prevalent. PreventionWorks! also reaches clients through walk-in hours at its office in Northwest. In addition to exchanging used needles for clean needles, PreventionWorks! provides condoms, smoking kits, clothing, food, information about rehab services, HIV testing, and referrals for medical care. Prior to working with PreventionWorks!, I had always supported needle exchanges without fully understanding their real impact on the community. I understood that they helped prevent communicable diseases, but I had no clue that their role in the community was as far-reaching and critical as I have seen it to be. It is truly a vital service to the community that has wide implications for public health beyond injection drug users. When describing my experiences to family and friends, especially those opposed to the idea of needle exchanges, I try to emphasize that needle exchanges actually promote healthier behavior through the harm-reduction model, and that the work we do meets people where they are with the overall aim of helping them improve their lives. It does not encourage drug addiction, nor does it support drug use, but it does support the individual in an accepting way that is critical to reaching them. Not everyone who comes to the needle exchange will stop using drugs, but through the exchange they will have a safe space that can connect them with many vital resources in the community to improve their health and help them address their drug use on their terms. I can't imagine a more effective means of reaching out to a population that is largely ignored by standard public health interventions, and this is what I try to share with anyone who may question what we are doing. ~Erica Adams
  5. 5. clientele Clientele of PreventionWorks!: PreventionWorks! mainly serves injection drug users, crack users, and sex workers in areas throughout DC that are hit hard by AIDS and other blood-borne diseases. However, people of all ages with various needs come to the van. Even though typically people visit the RV to exchange needles, some just want clothes and food, others are there only to get condoms, and a number come to ask about HIV testing or drug rehabilitation. Also, not everyone resides in DC. Some clients come from Virginia and Maryland. PreventionWorks! reaches a wide range of people. The PreventionWorks! program meets the needs of people other than injection-drug users. It should be noted that there is a large number of people who come to the van for other needs. Some people come for the food services it has available on certain days. Younger people often come for condoms, while I also noticed a few diabetic patients come for needles for their insulin. Finally, there are some people who just come for health information. ~Paul Weisbruch What impresses me most about PreventionWorks! is the commitment of the staff who have dedicated their lives to caring for people who are struggling every day with drug addiction. The staff honestly cares about the health, safety, and well-being of every person who boards the RV, and even reaches out to those who do not
  6. 6. make it to the van. The unique and special thing is, some of the staff members have fought their own battles with addiction in the past, and now they selflessly serve others as part of their own daily walk in continued recovery, without asking for anything in return. I know they inspire me; I can only imagine what they do for the clients. ~Meaghan Nelan Volunteer Schedule A Day in the Life of a PW! Volunteer: 11:40 Catch the GUTS to Dupont Circle 12:06 Hop on the Red Line to Union Station. 12:21 Board the X8 bus to the Hechinger Mall. 12:33 Meet the RV in the Safeway parking lot. 1:00 Ride over to Division Ave and Nannie Helens Burrough, NE. This is the first stop of the afternoon. 1:10 Turn on the laptop. Open the database. Set up the exchange kits. Put out the food containers. 1:15 Greet the first client. Invite him to sit down. Enter his date of birth and first name into the computer. Offer him a sharps container for the disposal of his used needles. Ask, "What type of works do you want? Apples? Blue heads? Groins? Diabetics?" Record the exchange, and ask, "Is there anything else I can do for you?" He might request a referral for detox, food, clothes, a safe smokers kit, or condoms. Or, he might just talk about his life since the last time I saw him. What is important is that each client receives individual attention and gets as much time as he/she needs. 1:20-2:45 Continue serving the people who have formed a line outside the RV door. This is a big stop, I will serve between 25 and 50 people. 2:46 Close the RV door. Shut down the computer. Put away the needles. Clean up the van. Pull out onto Divison Ave and take a left on Nannie Helens Burrough to head toward the next stop. 2:54 Pull up behind the old liquor store on New Jersey Ave in NE. This is the second stop of the afternoon. Start up the laptop again. Re-open the database. Organize the exchange kits again. Set out the salads and Ensure. 3:00 Open the door. 3:00-4:30 Assist the clients that stop by. Most are regulars, so take time to catch up. Wipe down the tables in the RV. Organize the file folders of information. This is one of the smaller stops, I will only serve approximately 10 clients before my time is up. 4:40 Jump on the Green Line at Navy Yard, heading toward Greenbelt. 4:48 Transfer at L'Enfant Plaza to the Blue Line in the direction of Franconia. 5:00 Arrive at Rosslyn. 5:05 Hitch a ride on the GUTS back to Georgetown.
  7. 7. "As we drove away from the capital, the building progressively became more rundown. My roommate, a DC native, turned to me and stated that she'd never been out this far into Northeast and she did not know exactly what to expect...neither did I. Scanning the streets, I noticed that we had become the minority. Everyone that we passed not only was of a different race from us but also they had a different style and a different manner. Clearly, I was going to standout. As we approached the corner of Division and Nannie Helens Burrough, I quickly realized that nothing was there, only a rundown store and some abandon buildings. People were meandering down the sidewalks, leaning on trash cans, and resting against the store walls. Some were talking, while others appeared to be just passing the time. Most were dressed in shabby clothes that looked as though they had not seen a washing machine in weeks. A few carried grocery bags, while several clutched backpacks that held all their belongings. As we took a right onto Division, I easily spot the RV, parked in a dirt spot on the side of the road, directly across from a city park. Outside the RV door, a group had gathered, waiting for their turn to exchange needles...waiting for me to help them." ~Julie Dunderdale One of the biggest services that I witnessed people receive on the van is a sense of stability and community. The example that really stands out is when a man boarded the van and quietly started to exchange his two needles. Then he broke down crying. He explained that he had been clean for several weeks but had relapsed recently and was concerned that he never would be clean and that his life would just be messed up forever. The PreventionWorks! staff reassured him that it really didn't matter that he relapsed because most people trying to quit relapse at some point. They also told him that the bigger picture was the he was trying to quit and that there are people who care that he stays healthy until that day. I could tell that this changed his mindset about the whole situation. He agreed to take the new needles but commented that he would attempt not to use them. I think that most of the people who come on the van are not primarily looking for needles, but are looking for a place where somebody is going to make a gesture that lets them
  8. 8. know that somebody cares. If you have to express this through needles, then fine. ~Dermot Maher By the Numbers... Med Students Involved: 8 Number of hours served so far: 76 Number of people served so far: 499 Estimated number of hours served by end of the semester: 102 Estimated number of people served by end of the semester: 670 Collective experience: PRICELESS Above and Beyond: ~A major problem shared by many of the clients of PreventionWorks! is the lack of a medical home. Lauren and Erica took the first step to address this problem by creating pamphlets that map out the clinics within a three mile radius of the eleven sites that PreventionWorks! serves. An example is given below: Where to Find Medical Help: Division & Nannie H. Burroughs, NE ~Dehydration is one of the often overlooked problems of injection drug user and the poor. John and Paul spearheaded an effort to collect donated bottled water from local businesses. ~Frequently injectioning drugs without using the appropriate methods and taking the proper precautions is likely to lead to injection site wounds and infections. Dermot and Zach are in charge of developing educational materials about wound care for the clients of PreventionWorks!.
  9. 9. Lessons Learned: It didn't take long for me to become aware of my own prejudices when interacting with the PreventionWorks! participants. During one van trip I caught a glimpse of how varied these peoples lives can be. Some participants were indistinguishable from anyone you might see walking down the street, arriving with groceries, presumably stopping off at the van as part of their daily/weekly routine. Others arrived with weathered faces and rough hands, open wounds, and unwashed or tattered clothes. At one point I realized I had to stop myself from thinking "How could you let your life come to this?" It was at this point I realized I was passing judgment on these people, and it was interfering with how I interacted with them. Our job out on the van, and in dealing with any set of patients, is not to judge but to serve. For the rest of the trip, what I concentrated on instead was that these people were making the choice to participate in needle exchange, and in so doing, were engaged in harm reduction. Everybody has addictions and everybody struggles with self-control-- medical students, doctors, everyone. My role is simply to provide a friendly face with an open ear and informed voice, should the opportunity arise. ~Jonh Dzundza I learned about the specific problems that injection drug users face in addition to getting clean; for example, they worry about their family, keeping warm in the winter, and wound care. ~Lauren Mabanta My experience on the van has helped illuminate the complexity of the challenges facing the DC area. We are so fortunate to live in the NW section of DC, cause as many of us have learned from service learning, life in the other areas is not nearly as comfortable or safe. There are so many people outside of NW who have been left behind by government and the rest of the community. Programs like Prevention Works can only accomplish so much to help many of its clients who live on the streets find homes and find healthcare and begin to gain more control over their addiction and life. ~Zach Wallace Links of Interest
  10. 10. PreventionWorks! Website Video: A Case for Patience and Kindness A Living HIV Quilt Page Created By: Julie Dunderdale & Meaghan Nelan This tool is based on an original model developed by the Knowledge Media Lab of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Problems? Report an Error.