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Our Mission The Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, Inc. is a community-based prevention and wellness organization committed to improving the overall health and wellbeing of marginalized individuals and communities. AHRC provides education, tiered risk reduction programs through partnerships, to empower adults in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of; substance use, HIV/AIDS, STDs, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases.
To service consumers who require a higher level of care and follow through with linkage to inpatient or outpatient medical, substance abuse treatment or transitional facilities. AHRC provides consumers with the tools to making safer choices in life in through evidence-based intervention and prevention programs. We build relationships with individuals who are vulnerable to contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS, STD's and Hepatitis Viruses and other blood borne pathogens while utilizing a harm reduction approach.
History of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center
In 1994, AHRC grew out of concern about the high rate of HIV transmission among Atlanta’s injection drug users (IDUs). AHRC was formally incorporated in 1995 with the goal of educating IDUs and non-users, community leaders, public health, safety, and elected officials, and other organizations about the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS. One year later, AHRC secured permanent office space and obtained 501(c)(3) status from the federal government.
To our knowledge, AHRC is the only organization in Atlanta that focuses specifically on promoting harm reduction strategies not only to affected populations, but also to the broader community. Building trusting relationships between AHRC outreach workers and active drug users is the foundation upon which behavioral changes are built. In the community where we deliver interventions, we have provided HIV prevention tools and information every single Saturday morning since May of 1997 - rain, shine, and holidays. In 2002 AHRC expanded its outreach efforts to include Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
AHRC’s HIV prevention outreach is based on Harm Reduction approaches to HIV prevention. Harm Reduction strategies were developed as a public health response to the prevention needs of active drug users. Within a harm reduction perspective the user is treated with dignity as a human being. Positive behavioral changes are viewed progressively with distinct stages based on the Transtheoretical Model developed by psychologists Procahska and DiClemente in 1986.
The outreach worker’s role is that of supportive facilitator, helping the participant develop the motivation and skills to change high-risk behaviors. The participant (drug user) sets the pace and goals of behavior changes. Our approach is positive and helpful and our understanding of behavior change places responsibility and power in the hands of the drug user. The service delivery environment ideally fosters self-esteem, self-advocacy, and community among active users. Our consistent delivery of services combined with our non-judgmental/non-manipulative approach has gained us the trust and respect of the community.