Written by Mannie Fresh, age 29, Durham, North Carolina
I'm a young black man raised in the poverty stricken communities of Durham NC. I have been in trouble with the law a few times and am a recovering alcoholic. I have witnessed the life-styles of active drug users and also sex workers who sell their bodies for drugs or for money to be able to purchase drugs. It's a sad sight to see active heroine users share the same needles time after time to inject themselves with a substance that their bodies have become chemically dependant upon or also to see the base user sharing the same pipe or stem until its piping hot and burns their lips, not knowing that there are risks associated with this type of using such as passing hepatitis C or HIV through the shared blood. I have sat in drug and prostitution houses trying to make a quick dollar not knowing that I was contributing to the diseases that plague those communities. This type of life-style eventually led to my incarceration.
During my incarceration I met someone from the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition who educated me and others about the risk of using drugs and the associated risk of sharing drug utensils. I was surprise by the many risks that "users" take without knowing the consequences of sharing needles, stems, etc. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition had such a positive influence on me that I pursued the organization after my incarceration and became a volunteer to do out-reach in the same type of communities that I was raised in. I make people aware of the risks associated with needle sharing and stem sharing and pass out free condoms and HIV tests, etc. I believe that the NC Harm Reduction Coalition has made a direct and positive effect on the lives of people who live in high-risk environments by educating them and making available products that will ensure their safety and also by slowing down the spreading of infectious diseases in high risk communities. I give mega thumbs up to NCHRC. Keep up the good work!