Syringe Exchange as a Social Movement

A Case Study of Harm Reduction in Oakland, California

Published In: Substance Use and Misuse, v. 33, no. 5, 1998, p. 1147-1174

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1998

by Ricky N. Bluthenthal

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The federal ban on funding for syringe exchang programs (SEPs) has greatly hampered attempts to prevent the spread of HIV among injection drug users in the United States. State laws prohibiting the possession and/or distribution of syringes have made SEPs illegal. These factors have lent a unique social movement quality to harm reduction efforts n the United States. Using a social movement perspective, this paper explores dynamics of the implementation and defense of the syringe exchange program in Oaklinad California. The advantages and disadvantages of the social movement aspects of harm reduction are discussed.

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