Story #26: On this spot every day, harm reduction saves lives.
The Portland Needle Exchange reduces the spread of blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C by exchanging clean needles and supplies for used equipment at no cost. In addition, participants receive education on risk reduction, case management services, testing for HIV, Hepatitis C, STDs and referrals to drug treatment programs upon request, and access to Narcan. Narcan is a medication used to counter the effects of opioids especially in overdose.
These are the facts. What these facts do not convey is that The Needle Exchange is made possible by a team of dedicated volunteers committed to supporting our neighbors who struggle with addiction. Katie Keating is one such volunteer. She began volunteering with The Needle Exchange after her younger brother died from an overdose. Currently Portland, Maine is experiencing a heroine epidemic. This brick honors the memory of Katie’s brother Brendan John Keating and all the friends, relatives, and neighbors we have lost to addiction. It also honors the volunteers who’s work is based on the radical position of fierce love and acceptance for all. On May 16th 2016 The Portland City Council voted to terminate access to these services.