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National Harm Reduction Coalition Announces Emergency COVID-19 Funding for HepConnect Grantees in Greater Appalachia

To respond to the crisis surrounding COVID-19, the national Harm Reduction Coalition, with grant support from Gilead Sciences, Inc., announced emergency response funding for HepConnect grantees in the initiative’s five states: Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. 

Shelter-in-place orders have impacted the way harm reduction programs and providers can reach participants and convene people in their communities. People who use drugs are among those facing additional risk during the COVID-19 pandemic and harm reduction supplies and services are essential. 

"The ability to redirect critical resources to grantees in this manner allows us to be able to support the emergent needs of the greater community. This is community care. This is self-care. This is harm reduction on its feet in the communities we are supporting." — Dr. Orisha Bowers (she/her), Regional Director of the HepConnect Initiative

National Harm Reduction Coalition allocated funding from Gilead Sciences, Inc. to support the emergent needs of communities impacted by drug use in the five states through the COVID-19 crisis. Funds will be utilized over the next three months for immediate support and the national Harm Reduction Coalition will be providing additional technical assistance (TA) to organizations shifting their programs.

“What we’ve seen in Indiana is the current COVID-19 crisis exacerbating so many other existent crises for our participants. And while harm reduction in Indiana is typically falling under the purview of local health departments, so many of those programs are seeing staffing shortages and closures due to COVID. Expansion of our services, from naloxone delivery to our on-the-ground outreach activities, has been rapid and exponential and we are honored by the ongoing support of Harm Reduction Coalition as we continue to show up in as many ways as possible for our people and our city.” — Jes Cochran (they/them), Executive Director at The Never Alone Project

The funding opportunity was open to existing HepConnect grantees who qualified for funding under the Provide category, and $7,500 was issued to 18 applicants, totaling $135,000 in emergency response. 

Full list of grantees for this category of responsive funding: 

  • Indiana Recover Alliance
  • The Never Alone Project
  • AVOL Kentucky, Inc.
  • Muhlenberg County Health Department
  • Hyde County Health Department
  • North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Next Step Initiative
  • Cabell-Huntington Health Department
  • Opioid Response Innovative Initiative (Sostento, Inc.)
  • Imani And Unidad, Inc.
  • Appalachian Regional Healthcare
  • Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Madison County Health Department
  • North Carolina Survivors Union
  • The Olive Branch Ministry
  • Street Works
  • Milan Puskar Health Right
  • Virginia Harm Reduction Coalition

In October 2019, national Harm Reduction and Gilead Sciences, Inc. announced $5.3 million in funding for 32 organizations providing harm reduction education and services. To learn more about how HepConnect grantees were selected and how awards were determined, please view the report, From Project Launch to Grant Awards: Creating the HepConnect Initiative Harm Reduction and Community Education Program.

Funding will support virtual trainings, staffing expenses, sustaining and expanding supplies, increasing testing services, personal protective equipment, as well as survey implementation and assessment to understand how COVID-19 is impacting current programs and what efforts will be needed to recover and adapt. 

Media Contact:
National Harm Reduction Coalition 
Orisha Bowers
(901) 399-4565

About HepConnect 

HepConnect is a five-year, multi-million dollar initiative funded by Gilead Sciences, Inc. to mobilize and expand capacity for organizations working with people who use drugs in five states significantly impacted by rising hepatitis C (HCV) rates. Funding is focused to expand HCV screening, linking people to care, improving health care professional education and supporting evidence-based harm reduction services through partnerships. Learn more at www.hepconnect.com

About National Harm Reduction Coalition 

The national Harm Reduction Coalition is a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes health and justice for people and communities affected by drug use. Learn more at https://harmreduction.org/hrc

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