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NCJ Number: 171391 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Syringe Exchange as a Social Movement: A Case Study of Harm Reduction in Oakland, California
Journal: Substance Use & Misuse  Volume:33  Issue:5  Dated:special issue (1998)  Pages:1147-1171
Author(s): R N Bluthenthal
Date Published: 1998
Page Count: 25
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Bethesda, MD 20892-9561
Grant Number: R01-DA09532
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using a social movement perspective, this paper explores the dynamics of the needle exchange program in Oakland, California, and discusses advantages and disadvantages of social movement aspects of harm reduction.
Abstract: The Federal ban on funding of needle exchange programs has greatly hampered attempts to prevent the spread of AIDS among intravenous drug users (IDUs) in the United States. Further, State laws prohibiting the possession and/or distribution of syringes have made needle exchange programs illegal. These factors have lent a unique social movement quality to harm reduction efforts. The social movement perspective assumes social movements are rational attempts by excluded groups to mobilize sufficient political leverage to advance collective interests through noninstitutionalized means. In the social movement literature, the political opportunity structure refers to dimensions of the political environment that either encourage or discourage people from using collective action. The existence of a favorable political environment for collective action, however, does not mean a social movement will always develop. In Oakland, needle exchange efforts were initiated in 1992 with the Alameda County Exchange (ACE). The ACE program targeted AIDS prevention among IDUs. In 1993, police began arresting ACE volunteers; as police arrested more and more volunteers, the rhetoric of volunteers in the press became more militant. Additional conflict centered around community relations and racial politics. The ACE program survived despite conflict, primarily because of organizational strength and political support. The author concludes that harm reduction service providers and advocates in the United States face an evolving and sometimes hostile political environment and that AIDS prevention programs such as outreach, bleach and condom distribution, expansion of drug treatment modalities, and needle exchange programs can lessen the magnitude of the AIDS epidemic among IDUs. 59 references, 13 notes, 1 table, and 1 figure
Main Term(s): Drug abuse
Index Term(s): AIDS/HIV prevention; California; Federal regulations; Needle/syringe exchange programs; Political influences; Social cohesion; State laws; United States of America
Note: DCC
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