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The Harm reduction team standing for a group photo in front of a red ribbon painting

Started in 1986 and celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2021, Western North Carolina AIDS Project, or WNCAP, exists to provide equitable access to care and reduce harm from HIV, Hepatitis C and substance misuse. Originally started as a program to provide care and comfort to patients with AIDS-related illnesses, the organization has expanded to include prevention education and case management programs as well as harm reduction, pharmacy and housing services.

WNCAP works in all 18 counties in Western North Carolina. Its case management programs include HIV case management, housing assistance, client engagement opportunities, transportation, and food delivery. Prevention programs provide HIV/HCV/STI testing, education, and prophylactics. All services are free and confidential.

They also operate a harm reduction program, and it’s in this area that they have partnered with Dogwood. Focused on justice and human rights, harm reduction programs seek to reduce negative health and social impacts associated with substance use disorder. They focus on positive change and on assisting people without judgment, coercion or discrimination. As part of its harm reduction program, WNCAP’s syringe services provide safer injection supplies, as well as life-saving Naloxone overdose reversal kits. In addition, through its pharmacy services program, WNCAP provides easy access to HIV treatment, the HIV preventive prophylactic known as PrEP and Hep C medication. 

“Dogwood has been very helpful and accessible. They have opened the door to organizations that might not have been traditionally at the top of the list. There is stigma around people who use drugs, and it is a barrier for people to access services at any level – food, medical, housing, etc.,” says Peggy Weil, interim COO. WNCAP has a fixed site in Macon County, and their mobile unit travels to Jackson County, Graham County and Swain County. They plan to expand to three additional WNC counties in the Fall.

“Having a foundation like Dogwood that is driven to support Substance Use Disorder work has been lifesaving to individuals, and has allowed organizations like ours to pursue expansion to communities who have not previously had services for people who use drugs.”

– Peggy Weil, Interim COO, WNCAP

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