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Harm reduction

Overdose Awareness & Prevention Campaign Launched during August

This year’s campaign highlights “justice for people who use drugs” and demands that San Francisco declare a state of emergency to open safe consumption sites.

SAN FRANCISCO, August 11, 2021This year for International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31), and for the entire month of August, San Francisco AIDS Foundation launched Overdose Awareness and Prevention Month campaign to sound the alarm on the overdose crisis, share life-saving resources, and demand that legislators do their part to implement evidence-based solutions such as safe consumption sites. 

In San Francisco, and nationwide, the number of people who fatally overdose continues to rise. According to  San Francisco’s Preliminary Accidental Drug Overdose Data Reports for January 2021 through June 2021, there were more than 700 overdoses in San Francisco in 2020— more than twice the number of people who died of COVID-19 that year.

“Every day that we wait means more deaths and every death is a failure of political leadership. Overdose is a crisis in San Francisco and our leaders have to step up and respond with boldness and compassion to save lives NOW,” said activist Ande Stone.

This past April, efforts to address the overdose crisis were delayed in the state legislature when hearings for Senate Bill 57 were postponed to January 2022. SB 57 (authored by Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco) would have allowed San Francisco, Oakland, and L.A. to pilot safe consumption sites in order to combat the rising rate of deaths by overdose.

In response to the delay of SB 57, San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s bold Overdose Awareness and Prevention Month campaign demands justice for people who use drugs and shares life-saving resources. The comic book-style imagery of the campaign directly acknowledges the “superheroes” who carry Narcan to save lives, and who find ways to use substances more safely. It also honors the comic and zine culture that is integral in harm reduction communities for disseminating life-saving education and resources for safer substance use.

“We are trying to say a lot with this campaignremembering those we lost to overdose, educating the community on how to take care of each other, all while motivating the citizens of San Francisco to push their elected officials to make a change,” said Christopher Artalejo-Price, SFAF’s creative campaign manager. “It’s my hope that we can do all of that. I hope that this campaign changes the conversation. If any city in the U.S. can be a place that changes how we think and treat people who use drugs, it’s my hope that San Francisco is that city.”

The campaign consists of community events advocating for safe consumption sites and resources, including:

  • Downloadable overdose prevention materials, in English and Spanish
  • Safer Consumption Services Petition: Sign our petition or text PREVENT OD to the number 52886 to demand that San Francisco’s leaders immediately fund and implement a safer consumption site to prevent overdoses and save lives.
  • Film Screening: The Stairs: Friday, August 13 at Strut 3rd Floor (470 Castro St.) from 6:00 – 8:30 pm. Join virtually or in-person to view The Stairs, a moving and poignant documentary film about the lives of people who use drugs and the challenges they face. Masks required. Food & drinks provided. Event is free. 
  • It’s Time to Give A F*ck: Teach-In exploring Drug Overdose in SF: Monday, August 30 at Strut 3rd Floor (470 Castro St.) from 6:00 – 8:30 pm. Sign up for a virtual and  in-person interactive learning event exploring the issue of drug overdose from a harm reduction perspective. Advocates, program experts and people who use drugs will share their perspectives on the roots of the overdose crisis and how we can advocate to save lives in San Francisco. Masks required. Food & drinks provided. Event is free. 

To learn more about SFAF’s Overdose Awareness and Prevention Month, sign our safer consumption services petition, and access overdose prevention resources visit: sfaf.org/overdose-prevention.

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About San Francisco AIDS Foundation

San Francisco AIDS Foundation promotes health, wellness, and social justice for communities most impacted by HIV, through sexual health and substance use services, advocacy, and community partnerships. Founded in 1982, SFAF envisions a future where health justice is achieved for all people living with or at risk for HIV, ultimately striving for a day when race is not a barrier to health and wellness, substance use is not stigmatized, HIV status does not determine quality of life, and HIV transmission is eliminated. Each year more than 25,000 people rely on SFAF programs and services and millions more find advocacy tools and information they need online at sfaf.org.