Creating a Harm Reduction Learning Network Across Central Appalachia

About the Project

In association with the North Carolina Injury & Violence Prevention Branch, the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center is in Year 2 of a multi-state overdose prevention initiative. This initiative will connect harm reduction practitioners from Central Appalachia in order to build a network for peers to share their knowledge and expertise with each other. Through this project, we plan to create a learning network. The learning network will support harm reduction work in communities across Central Appalachia, including grassroots community groups and public health practitioners, to identify successful strategies for addressing the challenges presented by the opioid overdose epidemic.

This initiative is a CDC-funded peer-to-peer project under the Overdose Data to Action three-year grant received by North Carolina.

Our Partners

Our core project team is made up of representatives from the North Carolina Injury & Violence Prevention Branch and the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center. This initiative has brought together a strategic planning committee with representatives from a group of seven Central Appalachian states (NC, VA, WV, OH, KY, TN, and GA). The committee includes harm reduction practitioners and overdose prevention experts from across these seven states who have provided guidance to the core project team on establishing the learning network. 

Strategic Planning Committee Members

  • Lillie Armstrong, Senior Manager, Drug User Health, NASTAD
  •  Orisha Bowers, Regional Director, HepConnect Initiative
  •  Corey Davis, Senior Attorney, Network for Public Health Law
  •  Donald Davis, Founding Member, Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition
  •  Judith Feinberg, Professor, School of Medicine, West Virginia University
  • Amanda Kiger-Stoffel, Regional Organizer, Unharming Ohio
  • Robin Pollini, Associate Professor, School of Medicine & School of Public Health, West Virginia University

Our Goals

In the planning stage, we will use key informant interviews to identify:

  • Existing coalitions engaged in harm reduction work across our 7-state network
  • Local harm reduction strategies that are effective or showing promise
  • Barriers to putting effective strategies into practice
  • Best practices for documenting a program’s success
  • Preferred ways to network and learn with regional partners 

Once the learning network is set up, its purpose will be to support harm reduction efforts by:

  • Providing a platform for networking, training, and technical assistance
  • Creating an information exchange for sharing effective harm reduction strategies in rural communities
  • Strengthening partnerships between community groups, health department staff, and public health researchers

Read our Year 1 Summary Report

We interviewed 62 harm reduction practitioners and policy experts from our 7 partner states on best practices for harm reduction, barriers to services, and what they would like from a peer resource sharing network.

Find out what harm reduction practitioners in Central Appalachia told us 

If you have questions or are interested in learning more about this project, please contact Gina Musa at reginael@email.unc.edu