Prairie Works is a group of individuals who proactively work in the community to reduce the risk of transmission of Hepatitis C and HIV among intravenous drug users by providing clean needles, along with cookers, cotton, Vitamin C, sterile water, and tourniquets.
Just like telling people to not have sex doesn't seem to work...ever, and so it's better to be realistic, teach people about STIs, how to use condoms and contraceptives
It doesn't make sense, and is particularly ineffective, to tell people to stop using drugs. So, it's better to teach them about how to reduce bruising and abscesses (such as not re-using needles; need them suckers nice and sharp), how to reduce the risk of getting staff (sanitize your injection site prior to injection), how to reduce the risk of transmitting Hep C or HIV (don't share cookers or needles), how to reverse an opioid overdorse (get trained in administering Naloxone, and have it on hand when using opioids—this could save a life).
Currently, the state of Iowa says that if you're in possession of needles to distribute for drug use, you can be charged with a misdemeanor paraphernalia charge. This, in our minds, is about as non-sensical as arresting someone for having more than three condoms on them (and this does happen too).
We're not waiting around for approval to provide a very simple service to populations at risk for Hep C & HIV. This past year had the highest rate of new cases for Hepatitis C in the state of Iowa. What have you heard about our state or local governments doing to abate this? Not much, eh?
Well, google Harm Reduction and North Carolina, or Washington DC, or New Orleans, or San Francisco, or Vancouver. There are real and effective ways of addressing this community health issue, and putting more people in jail is definitely not the answer.
Instead, treating them like human beings deserving of a normal conversation, a friendly face, and non-judgemental community health services providing supplies they actually need and can use is our preferred method of engagement.
You can help us out too. Reach out, see how you can get involved. Before, during, and after that, though, send us some money. The single biggest hurdle we face right now in doing this work is having enough needles to hand out. They are expensive. Help us do more, give us $10 and we'll send you a big thank you.