Safer drug use campaigns highlight strength, resilience, and power
This month, San Francisco AIDS Foundation launched overdose prevention and safer drug use educational campaigns by and for two audiences: transgender and non-binary people who use drugs, and Spanish-speaking people who use drugs. Both campaigns–featuring harm reduction and overdose prevention information plus illustrations from community artists–draw on the insights and expertise of community members who identify as people who use drugs who participated as community advisors.
No te pases
The campaign for Spanish-speakers, “No te pases,” was informed by a 2021/2022 needs assessment of Latino/x people in San Francisco who use drugs by SFAF and the National Harm Reduction Coalition. The needs assessment, which found significant barriers to and knowledge about harm reduction-related services and information, emphasized the need for culturally and linguistically-appropriate information to be distributed in Spanish-speaking communities.
In advisory committee meetings used to develop the “No te pases,” campaign, community members emphasized the need for “life affirming” messages, elements of religion and spirituality, and symbolic imagery in campaign materials. Art for the campaign was developed by Latinx artist Whitney Salgado, who used bold, vibrant, uplifting imagery to emphasize unity and the power of community to prevent overdose.
The campaign includes a landing page on SFAF.org (sfaf.org/notepases), printed materials distributed to community organizations serving Spanish-speaking audiences, safer use and overdose prevention resources, and San Francisco-based community ads (billboards, newspaper ads).
A separate group of community advisors, including participants from the secondary syringe exchange group THREADS and the community support group TransLife, developed and informed the direction of a campaign named Trans Together, for transgender, non-binary, and TGNCI+ people who use drugs.
A series of open-ended focus groups and advisory group meetings informed the direction and content of the campaign. Community members and staff shared insights about the many intersections of drug use and trans identity–and spoke about shared experiences around stigma, sex work, discrimination, and trauma. Community advisors emphasized the strength they find in community care and connecting with other trans people who use drugs. Pride, especially pride in being trans and pride in overcoming adversity, was a common sentiment expressed during focus group and community advisory meetings, and one that the “Trans Together” campaign sought to incorporate and build on.
Illustrations for the “Trans Together” campaign were created by artist Elaine Ponce, who also led a zine-making workshop for TransLife participants as part of the project. The campaign includes a landing page on SFAF.org (sfaf.org/trans-together), printed materials distributed to community organizations, safer use and overdose prevention resources, and San Francisco-based community ads (billboards, digital ads).