#NHASeverywhere: Bridging the Gap - The Intersection of HIV & Substance Use
September is National Recovery Month, a yearly observance to highlight, promote, and support treatment and recovery practices, the recovery community, and the providers and communities who make recovery possible. To increase the public’s awareness surrounding mental health and addiction recovery, and the intersection of HIV and substance use, for our next #NHASeverywhere story, we are featuring IDEA ExchangeExit Disclaimer, a comprehensive syringe services program in Miami that opened on World AIDS Day 2016. IDEA Exchange’s mission is to provide the tools necessary to reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases through harm reduction in South Florida to keep people healthy.
IDEA Exchange is a program of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami and was the first legal syringe exchange in Florida. Additionally, it provides prevention services at its main site and its mobile unit, including anonymous HIV and Hepatitis C testing, safe injection kits, basic wound care, condoms, overdose prevention, and low barrier, on-site treatment for substance use disorder.
The program envisions health equity with a mission of increasing access to the tools necessary to keep people healthy, especially those who are most vulnerable—such as Chetwyn “Arrow” Archer, a peer navigator at IDEA Exchange. As “Arrow” tells it, Hansel Tookes, MD, MPH, IDEA’s founder and medical director, saved his life as he entered treatment for substance use and HIV. “Arrow” is a shining example of the amazing work accomplished by IDEA Exchange, as it promotes people with lived experiences to deliver harm reduction services in the Miami community.
IDEA Exchange’s work aligns with more than one National HIV/AIDS Strategy (2022-2025) (NHAS) objective, including strategy 3.3.1 in the NHAS: Create and promote public leadership opportunities for people with or who experience risk for HIV. “Arrow is my hero. He is my co-professor, co-investigator, and IDEA’s most treasured ambassador,” Dr. Tookes said. “He is by my side as I teach the next generation of physicians to treat people who inject drugs with the dignity and respect they deserve. He is in the room as I plan major studies. Most importantly, he shows every person who comes to IDEA that recovery is possible. I loved him when he was using. I love him when he is not using. Arrow is so thankful to me, but little does he know how thankful I am for him, his leadership, and his compassion.”
HIV.gov launched #NHASeverywhere in Spring 2022. It is a social media effort that spotlights the remarkable work being done in communities across the country to help reach the goals detailed in the NHAS. Each story highlights work that aligns with the NHAS, as an example of the collective efforts needed across the nation to end the HIV epidemic.
To learn more about the NHAS and its implementation throughout the country, follow our social media channels (FacebookExit Disclaimer , TwitterExit Disclaimer , and InstagramExit Disclaimer) and sign up for updates, as HIV.gov will share more stories, like IDEA Exchange’s, from across the country.