Bronx, New York – “Our public health system needs to be grounded in community and evidenced-based care combined with a deep commitment to human agency and innovation.” stated Joyce Rivera, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction – a pioneering Bronx-based organization in the harm reduction movement and New York City’s oldest syringe exchange program.

In response to the New York Senate’s passage of Opioid and Overdose Prevention Legislation, SACHR’s Founder and CEO Joyce A. Rivera made the following statement:

“Today’s report and bill package released by New York State’s Senate Taskforce on Opioids, Addiction and Overdose Prevention takes encouraging steps in the areas of mandatory training and education, prescription requirements, increased access to overdose reversal medications, decreased scrutiny and discrimination by insurance companies, and tools for infant recovery centers.

“Notably missing from the bill package are mechanisms to expand syringe access and the creation of scientific, research-based pilot programs for Overdose Prevention Centers (OPCs).  These two elements are crucial, scientifically supported lifesaving tools and will prevent the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic from repeating itself.  New York State cannot rely on the voter if the State cannot protect her life and those of her community.

“These bills are the start of what we believe to be comprehensive steps from New York State – steps that will only be strengthened and made more meaningful by establishing overdose prevention center pilot initiatives, decriminalizing syringe possession and decreasing barriers to syringe access programs, and empowering successful community-based programs with meaningful revisions to DSRIP funding.  It is only when all of these tools work in harmony that New York State will lead on addressing the largest challenge to public health in recent memory.  Again, we are encouraged by these steps, but must insist that there is significant, lifesaving work left to be done.”