Atlanta Harm Reduction Center Inc

Our Information

A History of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center


In 1994, AHRC grew out of concern
about the high rate of HIV transmission
among Atlanta’s injection drug users
(IDUs). AHRC was formally incorporated
in 1995 with the goal of educating IDUs
and non-users, community leaders,
public health, safety, and elected officials,
and other organizations about the
effectiveness of harm reduction strategies to reduce the transmission
of HIV/AIDS. One year later, AHRC secured permanent
office space and obtained 501(c)(3) status from the federal
government. To our knowledge, AHRC is the only organization
in Atlanta that focuses specifically on promoting harm reduction
strategies not only to affected populations, but also to the
broader community.

Building trusting relationships between AHRC outreach workers
and active drug users is the foundation upon which behavioral
changes are built. In the community where we deliver
interventions, we have provided HIV prevention tools and information
every single Saturday morning since May of 1997 -
rain, shine, and holidays. In 2002 AHRC expanded its outreach
efforts to include Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

AHRC’s HIV prevention outreach is based on Harm Reduction
approaches to HIV prevention. Harm Reduction strategies were
developed as a public health response to the prevention needs
of active drug users. Within a harm reduction perspective the
user is treated with dignity as a human being. Positive behavioral
changes are viewed progressively with distinct stages
based on the Transtheoretical Model developed by psychologists
Procahska and DiClemente in 1986. The outreach worker’s
role is that of supportive facilitator, helping the participant develop
the motivation and skills to change high-risk behaviors.
The participant (drug user) sets the pace and goals of behavior
changes. Our approach is positive and helpful and our understanding
of behavior change places responsibility and power
in the hands of the drug user. The service delivery environment
ideally fosters self-esteem, self-advocacy, and community
among active users. Our consistent delivery of services combined
with our non-judgmental/non-manipulative approach
has gained us the trust and respect of the community.

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