#NHASeverywhere: Hawai῾i Health & Harm Reduction Center
Our next #NHASeverywhere story comes from Hawai’i Health & Harm Reduction CenterExit Disclaimer (HHHRC), a nonprofit that offers free HIV testing and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in collaboration with the Harm Reduction Services Branch of the Hawai῾i State Department of Health.
HHHRC’s mission is to reduce harm, promote health, create wellness, and fight stigma in Hawai῾i and the Pacific. HHHRC administers the state’s publicly funded syringe exchange programExit Disclaimer across four counties. The program has kept HIV rates among persons who inject drugs for over three decades. Fentanyl test strips were first offered to program participants in 2019, supported by a grant from the Comer Family Foundation and subsequently received state funding. HHHRC currently offers nasal naloxone on a statewide basis through its websiteExit Disclaimer. Most of the state’s first responders, including the Honolulu Police Department and Honolulu Fire Department, carry nasal naloxone and are trained to recognize signs of opioid overdose. Naloxone can be a life-saving treatment for patients who overdose.
Its efforts are focused on those who are disproportionately affected by social determinants of health, including people with or affected by HIV, hepatitis, and substance use. It provides medical case management services to over 700 people living with HIV on O῾ahu, helping to ensure that each person has access to medication to achieve and maintain viral suppression.
HHHRC provides homeless outreach and housing navigation services in urban and rural portions of O῾ahu, including unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. Additionally, safer sex supplies are distributed through its clinic, mobile medical unit, street medicine team, syringe exchange program, outreach services, and at local allied businesses.
The Honolulu AIDS WalkExit Disclaimer is an annual fundraising effort where hundreds from across the state gather to support those with HIV. HHHRC also plays a key role in convening the community on World AIDS DayExit Disclaimer, December 1, to honor those who have passed from AIDS-related illness and support those working to reduce the impact of HIV in Hawai῾i.
HHHRC has a number of programs that are grounded in cultural humility to better reach those who have been stigmatized by systems of care. It offers HIV case management services through a Native Hawaiian cultural lens via its Ke ῾Ola Pono program. HHHRC’s transgender services program, Kua῾ana ProjectExit Disclaimer, assists members of Oahu’s trans community with access to gender-affirming medical care, behavioral health services, name changes, housing, and other available government support. Hawai῾i’s Last DragExit Disclaimer is HHHRC’s smoking cessation program that centers the needs of sexual and gender minorities. HHHRC’s Training InstituteExit Disclaimer’s offerings include “LGB Cultural Competency” and “Transgender Cultural Humility.”
HHHRC’s work aligns with more than one National HIV/AIDS Strategy (2022-2025) (NHAS) objective, including objective 4.1.5: Enhance the ability of the HIV workforce to provide naloxone and educate people on the existence of fentanyl in the drug supply to prevent overdose and deaths and facilitate linkage to substance use disorder treatment and harm reduction programs.
“The Strategy has a clear vision to prevent new HIV infections and ensure that every person with HIV has high-quality care and treatment. We continually seek ways to provide effective prevention interventions across our HIV-related work, and this includes the provision of fentanyl test strips and nasal naloxone to prevent fatal overdoses,” said HHHRC Executive Director Heather Lusk, who is also actively involved with the Hawai’i Opioid InitiativeExit Disclaimer.
Released by the White House on World AIDS Day 2021, the NHAS sets forth bold targets for ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. It articulates goals, objectives, and strategies to prevent new infections, treat people with HIV to improve health outcomes, reduce HIV-related disparities, and better integrate and coordinate the efforts of all partners to achieve the targets for ending the epidemic, including the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative. EHE is complementary to the NHAS and is a Department of Health and Human Services-led initiative that directs resources into 57 priority jurisdictions that make up more than half of U.S. HIV transmissions.
To learn more about the NHAS and the Federal Implementation Plan nationwide, follow our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Sign up for updates to read more stories about organizations around the country working to end the HIV epidemic.