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Vital Strategies’ “Support Harm Reduction” Campaign a Two-Category Finalist for Shorty Social Good Awards

Vital Strategies’ “Support Harm Reduction” Campaign a Two-Category Finalist for Shorty Social Good Awards  

National Ad Campaign and Memorial Generates Support for Harm Reduction as Solution to Growing Overdose Crisis and Launched on-line Overdose Memorial 

(New York, USA) – Vital Strategies is proud to announce that its Support Harm Reduction campaign is a finalist for the Shorty Impact Awards in the Best Social Movement and Public Health categories. The awards honor social good initiatives by brands, agencies and nonprofits that are making our world a better place.  

Launched in February 2022, the Support Harm Reduction campaign educates and builds support for harm reduction as a lifesaving, common-sense strategy to reduce overdose. The campaign is in response to an overdose crisis that has spiraled to its worst levels ever in the United States and emphasizes moving from a punitive approach to drug use to a public health approach. The campaign launched with a full-page print ad in The New York Times, featuring 200 people on the front lines of the overdose crisis working in harm reduction. Three video ads featuring overdose prevention advocates whose lives were saved by harm reduction aired 6,000 times in and around Washington, D.C. on a range of channels including CNN, BET, ESPN and on YouTube, Hulu and podcasts in Vital Strategies priority states New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, garnering 44 million impressions to date. 

This innovative ad campaign features people whose lives have been saved by harm reduction and offers concrete harm reduction interventions that can reduce overdose deaths,” said Tony Newman, Communication Director at Vital Strategies Overdose Prevention Program. “The Support Harm Reduction campaign is a rallying cry to demand that every community have access to these lifesaving interventions, and an homage to those already doing the work, who need the resources and support to save many more lives.”  

The Support Harm Reduction Campaign was launched at a critical time. More than 107,000 people in the U.S. died of an overdose in 2021 alone, with rates of fatal overdose increasing most rapidly among Black and Indigenous communities. By reaching community leaders, policymakers, and people who have been touched personally by the overdose crisis, the campaign increases awareness about harm reduction measures, especially: fentanyl test strips and other drug checking tools; access to syringes and safer use supplies; naloxone in community hands to reverse overdoses; methadone and buprenorphine access; and overdose prevention centers.  

A central component of the Support Harm Reduction campaign is the interactive online memorial honoring the lives of people who have died from a drug overdose. Inspired by the AIDS quilt, Vital Strategies is taking the online memorial on tour across some of the states hardest hit by the overdose epidemic, displayed on LCD installations. The first overdose memorial event was at the Newark Public Library on August 31 this year, International Overdose Awareness Day. The overdose memorial was also featured at the National Harm Reduction Conference in Puerto Rico last month.  

“The AIDS quilt helped turned grief into demand for change, challenging the country to confront the mounting HIV/AIDS epidemic with the urgency it required. With overdose deaths topping 100,000 a year, we are beyond the moment of reckoning with our failure to address drug use as a health issue,” said Dr. Daliah Heller, Vice President of Drug Use Initiatives at Vital Strategies. “We hope the overdose memorial offers an opportunity for those touched by this tragedy to share their stories and join in the call to support the public health solution to the overdose crisis: harm reduction.”  

Shorty Impact Award winners will be announced November 16, at iHeart Theater (former home of the Jay Leno Show at Burbank Studios) in Los Angeles, CAThe public may vote for their favorite campaigns through November 9th online. The entry that receives the highest number of public votes will be awarded the Audience Honor by the Shorty Awards.  

For more information about the Support Harm Reduction campaign, visit: https://www.supportharmreduction.org/  

About Vital Strategies  

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. In November 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a five-year, $120 million investment to help combat the overdose crisis in the hard-hit states of Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The initiative builds on work of the previous three years in Michigan and Pennsylvania, launched in 2018 with $50 million, and expands the work to promote improved federal policies. The partnership between Vital Strategies, Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University, CDC Foundation, and Global Health Advocacy Incubator is helping to strengthen and scale up evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to reduce overdose risks and save lives.  

To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.  

Media Contact:  
Tony Newman:  tnewman@vitalstrategies.org; 646-335-5384 
Gloria Malone: gmalone@vitalstrategies.org