December 3, 2019 – In honor of World AIDS Day, Treatment Action Group (TAG) continues to stand with the global harm reduction movement in support of evidence based, live saving interventions for people who use drugs, including syringe service programs and safer consumption spaces (SCS).
According to our allies at ACT UP Philadelphia, approximately every 2 hours another person is lost to fatal overdoses in Pennsylvania. In response to this public health crisis, Safehouse, a community-based non-profit, announced plans to open an SCS in Philadelphia. When a Trump-appointed attorney general sued to prevent the Safehouse SCS from opening, TAG joined numerous public health organizations to sign on to an Amicus Brief in support of Safehouse. In October, days after a federal court ruled SCS do not violate federal law and Safehouse could open as planned, Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Williams proposed banning SCS in Pennsylvania.
SCS reduce the harm of drug use by linking participants with needed social services, preventing or reversing fatal overdose, treating wounds and providing other medical care, and offering addiction treatment for those who want it. Over 30 years, in a dozen countries and over 100 spaces, SCS have been shown to benefit entire communities by decreasing overdose rates, public injection, and discarded syringes. Communities where SCS are located have not seen increases in crime or active drug users.
We call on Sen. Williams’ to follow the evidence and abandon his misinformed, dangerous stance. Every overdose death is a preventable death, and Pennsylvanians will continue to die without the care found at Safehouse and other SCS. TAG stands against policies that deny effective interventions to the people and communities who need them. Saving lives is not a crime.
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