New York Times Profiles Head of New York-Based Harm Reduction Coalition
The New York Times on Wednesday profiled Allan Clear, executive director of the New York City-based Harm Reduction Coalition, a not-for-profit group that promotes needle-exchange programs to help reduce harm, including possible HIV infection, linked to injection drug use. Clear, who was formerly associated with the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP, was "involved in underground needle exchange years before the state ... provided waivers to some community groups to do it legally," the Times reports. In 1995, he was hired to run the coalition -- which also develops public policy and trains social workers -- and he moved the group's headquarters from San Francisco to New York City. The group is currently working with state and city officials to help establish a needle-exchange program in Queens that would be administered by the AIDS Center of Queens County. There are currently no needle-exchange programs in Queens, and there is "some resistance" to starting such programs, according to the Times. Clear said, "Harm reduction is not making drug use solely acceptable, but it's accepting that people use." He added, "Being an advocate for the health of drug users is not a popular thing. But I wouldn't do this if I wasn't overly optimistic" (Richardson, New York Times, 3/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.