We develop and operate health-promoting, illness-prevention programs for the benefit of the general public with a primary focus on serving the drug-using community.
Drug use and misuse is a public health issue. Through our initiatives and advocacy, we support unrestricted access to the tools and information drug users need to make healthier choices. We also promote non-judgmental acceptance of drug users.
With his TV tray, Dave launched Tacoma Needle Exchange (TNE), the first legal exchange in the U.S. To support TNE and other programs, Dave soon joined with a handful of like-minded folks to form a nonprofit, Point Defiance AIDS Projects. The mission? To stem the tide of AIDS one life and one syringe at a time. Since then, our mission has grown. Our new name, The Dave Purchase Project, reflects the spirit of our founder while allowing us to provide leadership on a larger range of public health issues.
Dave would go on to become a founding member of the Harm Reduction Coalition, a founder of the harm-reduction movement in the U.S., and a pioneer in establishing the needle exchange program as one of the most successful public health intervention strategies for combatting the spread of bloodborne pathogens.
As Tacoma Needle Exchange grew and we learned more about our clients' needs, we helped pioneer the concept of mobile needle exchanges. We also brought SSPs across North America together to increase our buying power, reducing supply costs and increasing impact. The success of the U.S. AIDS movement and of Syringe Service Programs (SSP) like ours have dramatically reduced the prevalence of AIDS. But now there are new challenges to tackle like the opioid crisis and the rise of hepatitis.
We continue to work tirelessly to keep HIV at bay with the Tacoma Needle Exchange and through NASEN, our network that supports SSPs throughout North America with low-cost harm reduction supplies, education, research, and syringe-service advocacy. We’re excited to continue to push new harm-reduction strategies forward by being a local leader in coordinated care in Pierce County and leveraging what we learn to better support SSPs nationally.
"I myself struggled with addiction and wanted to stand for people who use drugs and advocate for them. Harm reduction to me is a practical way to give back to our community and build better relationships with people who use drugs. I love the outdoors and love to hike crazy mountains and get in the elements every weekend!"
"Our former Executive Director, Alisa Solberg, introduced me to the field of harm reduction and I've been here ever since. I love learning more about the field and introducing it to others. I love the PNW but I am actually from the midwest and will always consider Iowa my home."
"I've been working in harm reduction across the country since 2014 and originally fell in love with the work because of my personal lived experience as a PWUD. Since then, my passion has been to fight for the rights and safety of people who are involved with drugs and to build meaningful relationships with members of our community. My favorite part of this work is being out in the field doing outreach and delivering services to folks exactly where they're at. When I'm not slinging supplies or educating folks on how to respond to an overdose, I am making sad music and playing with my cat, Cyd Vicious."
"I believe that harm reduction is doing the right thing. I enjoy sailing, spoiling my dog, and teaching kids to sail and be constructive with their hands."
"Harm Reduction to me, means meeting a person where they're at, in a non-judgmental environment, to help or support them in making safer decisions regarding their lifestyle. I am the clumsiest person on this planet."
“I’m originally from Seattle, moved to Pierce County a few years ago. I’m passionate about harm reduction as it saved my life, and continues to save lives in my community. Harm reduction means treating people with dignity and respect. It means involvement and participation with the people we serve.”
"Passionate about social justice, the rights, and dignity of people who use drugs and removing the stigma and criminalization of drug use. I've seen The Office 11 times and I've been a vegetarian for 16 years."
"I am a community health outreach worker and interface directly with participants. As a former I.V. drug user who has spent years living outdoors and in public all around the country, I was very pleased to find employment that serves both communities. Advocating against the inhumane war on drugs and private prison systems is something very important to me, and getting to directly serve communities affected by them has a worth to me that can not be measured. I have been to all 48 states in this country with my dog Ransom, and this is one of my favorite places. I love raccoons I am learning the banjo."
"I am a mother of one, g’ma of 2, lover of travel, golf, and all things outdoors."
"What keeps me coming back to harm reduction is the idea of any positive change. I don't have to commit to fixing everything to make one improvement. It's more than enough to try to do one thing a little bit better tomorrow than I did today. I once taught my dog how to blow bubbles in his water dish, and then immediately had to teach him to stop doing that because he started blowing bubbles every time he got water and the mess was outrageous."
"Harm Reduction is meeting people where they are at, without judgment, and providing the resources for them to make the healthiest/safest choice they want. When I met Elton John he told me I have "Nice Legs""
"I have worked in the field of Public Health since the early 1990s. Good Public Health talks about Harm Reduction. Great Public Health integrates Harm Reduction. I'm an avid runner and recently my son and I have taken up archery."
“Community building, mutual aid, and transformative justice! Coming together to take care of each other and keep each other safe! I feel inspired when folx take direct action! Ransom and I are best friends because I give him the best butt scratches.”
"Everyone is somebody's someone." And everyone is worth taking care of. I grow fruits, vegetables, and chickens in my spare time."
"Harm Reduction is highly personal to me. Coming from a history of SUD/OUD, I have firsthand experience of the obstacles that community members face to remain safe. I see it as a paramount importance that the needs of all our neighbors be met and that we work in cooperation to offset the discrepancies felt by late stage capitalism. Harm Reduction means meeting people where they're at and to help dispel the myths of drug users having some moral failing. People who use drugs deserve agency and advocacy. I have an extensive action figure collection."