Arapahoe County Public Health will increase its harm reduction work—evidenced-based efforts that aim to reduce health and social harms associated with substance use—after receiving additional grants and other funding. Harm Reduction efforts will expand to additional areas of the County, purchase a new mobile unit, and leverage successes in other municipalities.
Money set aside from the state will be used to grow the focus of Arapahoe County Public Health’s harm reduction mobile outreach team beyond their current efforts in Aurora.
“We know there is a need for those services along the western portion of the County,” said Taylor Roberts, Community Health Promotion Supervisor. “We’re looking at expanding community outreach and education to Englewood and Sheridan and along the Santa Fe corridor. We are working with our partners to achieve as much community saturation with harm reduction strategies as we can.”
Funds received from Colorado Opioid Advisory Council (COAC) will be used to purchase a new RV for the mobile outreach team, to begin operating this summer. Mobile units allow for increased engagement with residents who need a safe, non-judgmental place to exchange used syringes for sterile injection equipment.
“We can drive into communities and engage individuals who are suffering from substance abuse disorder and really penetrate parts of the County we don’t reach when we are relying on physical spaces,” said Roberts.
Arapahoe County Public Health Harm Reduction will also participate in the Reducing Overdose through Community Approaches (ROCA) Mentorship Program, which pairs the County with a mentor—San Francisco Health Department.
“With the ROCA grant, we want to learn of successful strategies and help troubleshoot some of the barriers and challenges we are having with our substance abuse prevention work,” said Roberts. “We hope to better understand how to facilitate that through community engagement, partnership development, internal capacity building and equitable delivery of harm reduction strategies.”
Arapahoe County Public Health’s Harm Reduction efforts seek to:
- Expand access to harm reduction and addiction services to vulnerable populations through mobile health.
- Increase awareness of the effects of opioids and treatment options for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).
- Increase access to recovery support services and link those with OUD to comprehensive community-based care and resources.
- Reduce the stigma of OUD treatment and rehabilitation and normalize harm reduction programs in the community.
- Reduce the spread of HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).