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Why I Offer Clean Needles in Jesus' Name

Why I Offer Clean Needles in Jesus' Name

On the front lines of HIV prevention in one of America's holiest cities.

Since I needed a place to begin, I started to connect with events and organizations important to the HIV community, with the objective to "show up and shut up." I made an appointment with the program manager of HIV/AIDS Services, Inc., a man named Dave, the organization's only employee. I found him in a rented, closet-sized office within a building called "The Network"—known around town as the gay building. It's in an eclectic part of GR, behind the only store that caters to customers interested in New Age materials. As I walked into the rainbow-flagged edifice for our meeting, I had a boatload of fear. It's not that I was afraid of gay people, per se—I just didn't know very many. The Network's lobby was strewn with magazines and brochures about coming out, gay sex, HIV, and local events catering to the LGBT community.

I squeezed into an extra chair shoehorned into the miniscule office and began to chat with Dave about their programs and volunteer positions. He mentioned the organization's HIV prevention efforts aimed at the demographics most at risk for the virus: gay men and intravenous drug users. He explained the work of the needle exchange and the "outreach" programs in gay bars throughout our city. He explained the philosophy of meeting people where they are and moving them one baby step at a time toward health and, in that process, informing them about HIV and how to prevent its spread. Genuinely wanting to learn about this agency and their work (my notebook and clipboard in hand matched my earnest expression), I vigorously nodded to suggest this was all familiar information.

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Displaying 2–2 of 2 comments

Kamilla Ludwig

January 19, 2013  2:52pm

Absolutely SUPER illustration of Christ's response to the woman caught in adultery! I know most of our translations have that awful, judgmental misrepresentation that runs something like, "Go and sin no more". But I can tell Olsson and the wise folk in Carol Stream know that the original reads: "Sweetie, I understand you are in a bad place and only ready to take teensy little baby steps so, here, take this condom. And the next time you feel like getting horizontal, you can ask him to slip this on and at least you can be a little less worried about the consequences."

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