“According to Riverside County Strategic Health Alliance Pursuing Equity (SHAPE), recent data indicate an upward trend in the death rate from drug use. In California, there are 13.1 deaths per 100,000 people. In DAP Health’s service area, however, that number jumps to 17.5 per 100,000.

With an increase in drug use comes an increase in HIV transmissions through shared needles. As reported by the Riverside University Health System, the HIV incidence rate in Riverside County is 10 cases per 100,000. However, in DAP Health’s service area, the incidence rate is almost double that at 18.4 cases per 100,000. “DAP Health continues to respond to community needs,” said to CJ Tobe, DAP Health director of community health and sexual wellness. “We saw new HIV infections increase through the COVID pandemic and we saw that the 92262 ZIP Code had a 300% higher death rate compared to the state average caused by opioids.”

In response to these increases, DAP Health recently launched its harm reduction program to combat the rise in preventable overdoses as well as the increase in new HIV cases.  “The goal of the program is to create a safe, stigma-free environment to establish trust for those living with addiction so they can have conversations with harm reduction staff to see how best they can be supported,” said Tobe. “Harm reduction is a strategy to engage with folks during their journey with addiction, meeting them where they are at and as part of a path to using drugs safely, reducing their use, or to recovery…”

[Read the full article at daphealth.org]