Harm Reduction is Public Health

U.S. cities are facing a silent public health crisis among injection drug users.  Fatal and near-fatal overdoses have spiked.  HIV and hepatitis C infection rates have reached critical levels.  

The solutions to these problems are simple, cheap, and supported by good public health data.  They are also very difficult to implement because of significant stigma surrounding open conversations about the nature of drug dependency. 

Objective

To update the brand story for Denver’s Harm Reduction Action Center to more accurately represent its role as a mature public health entity that provides a breadth of lifesaving services to better the health of all of Denver.  

Insights

The Harm Reduction Action Center provides niche public health service to people who inject drugs.  Although the organization provides an array of services including communicable disease testing, best practices personal health trainings, social support and referrals, and robust policy work on the local and state level, they are best known as a “needle exchange.”  While access to clean needles is the cornerstone of an effective, data-driven public health strategy, its mere suggestion is one that is fraught with stigma, fear, and skepticism.  In order to frame the Harm Reduction Action Center’s relevance to the constituency of the city that it serves, its story needed to be told through the lens of the normalized and readily accessible framework of public health.


Solution

Using feedback from organizational stakeholders, Luceo crafted a comprehensive campaign shifting the Harm Reduction Action Center’s story from a scrappy grassroots organization typically thought of as a “needle exchange”  into a mature public health agency that provides a breadth of services that are integral the the health and welfare of all of Denver’s residents.  The campaign incorporates photographs, video, mobile and web technologies designed to give Denver's Harm Reduction Action Center and its affiliates tools to educate and empower members of the community it serves.  The comprehensive campaign  depicts the healthcare stories of people who inject drugs, their families, and healthcare workers through a normalized lens, showing the true human breadth of those serviced by the Harm Reduction Action Center.  

hrac_site

Services Rendered

Video and production services

Photographic Services

Post Production Services

Copywriting

Strategic Consultation

Web design and development

Results

To-date, campaign materials have been used in media, advertising, and education materials to inform and mobilize community stakeholders including local law enforcement, healthcare providers and advocates, and the immediate community served by the Harm Reduction Action Center.  Since the implementation of the work, the Harm Reduction Action Center has successfully opened Colorado's first (and largest) syringe access program, has successfully advocated for passage of three harm reduction policies at the State Capitol, and has worked with law enforcement to craft exemption policies for those actively participating in the syringe access program.  This has resulted in the distribution of more than 100,000 clean syringes annually, successful reversal of 135 near-fatal overdoses, and a marked reduction in crime –particularly drug-related crime –in the immediate community served by the Harm Reduction Action Center. 

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