Friday: Hundreds to Attend First-ever Southern California Harm Reduction Summit in Los Angeles

Press Release July 21, 2009
Media Contact

Tommy McDonald at 646-335-2242 or Tony Newman at 646-335-5384

LOS ANGELES–Is abstinence the only way–or even the best way to manage drug use? How has syringe access availability improved in Southern California and is it reducing HIV infection rates? Can people with persistent and chronic drug use issues still lead healthy, happy lives? How can sex workers adopt safer and more positive practices in their work?

A diverse and influential group will gather to answer these questions and many more at the Southern California Harm Reduction Summit in Los Angeles, July 24 at the California Endowment Center for Health Communities. The conference is organized by the Los Angeles Harm Reduction Collaborative, with major sponsorship for the event provided by the Drug Policy Alliance and CRC Health Group. L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon is delivering the welcoming remarks and famed harm reduction icon Dr. Sharon Mitchell is delivering the keynote speech.

“Sex work and drug use are prevalent in Southern California, and they’re not going away any time soon,” said conference organizer Meghan Ralston, of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The unprecedented response to this sold-out conference underscores the tremendous interest and need in Southern California to implement life saving practices.”

In the past decade, the national harm reduction movement has grown significantly. Voters and legislators have enacted harm reduction policies all across the country in a variety of areas, ranging from over-the-counter access to syringes in pharmacies, to methadone treatment programs, to ‘Good Samaritan 911’protections that encourage people who witness an overdose to call for help without fear of arrest. Building on this momentum, over 300 drug policy experts, health care and drug treatment professionals, as well as family and friends of people who use drugs, will gather to discuss the future of harm reduction in Southern California.

Among the many topics to be addressed at the conference are:

The Drug Policy Alliance is a major sponsor of the 2009 Southern California Harm Reduction Summit, along with the CRC Health Group. Safety Works, Total Access Group and Clean Needles Now are co-sponsoring the event.

Visit to learn more about the summit.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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