Injection drug users as social actors: A stigmatized community's participation in the syringe exchange programmes of New York City

A. R. Henman, D. Paone, D. C. Des Jarlais, L. M. Kochems, S. R. Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In 1992, New York State Department of Health regulations provided for fully legal syringe exchange programmes in the state. The policies and procedures mandated that: 'Each program must seek to recruit... for inclusion on its advisory board... program participants... Programs are also urged to establish other advisory bodies, such as Users' Advisory Boards made up of program participants, to provide input and guidance on program policies and operations.' The inclusion of drug users as official advisors to the legal programmes was seen as a method for incorporating the views of the consumers of the service in operational decisions. The 1992 regulations implied a new public image for users of illicit psychoactive drugs: active drug users were seen to be capable not only of self-protective actions (such as avoiding HIV infection), but alsoof serving as competent collaborators in programmes to preserve the public health. This development has important implications with regard to the evolution of official drug policy, since it will be difficult in future to treat IDUs simply as the passive objects of state intervention. Whether as individuals or representatives of a wider population of illicit drug users, they have acquired a legitimacy and sense of personal worth which would have been unthinkable in previous periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-408
Number of pages12
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 20 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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