National Harm Reduction Coalition

National Harm Reduction Coalition Awards $5 Million to Local Organizations Expanding Harm Reduction in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia

Launched in 2019, Gilead Sciences HepConnect Initiative is Five Year, Multi-Million Dollar Effort to Fight Hepatitis C

New York City, NY -- National Harm Reduction Coalition is proud to award more than $5 million in grant funding to 30 organizations with generous support from Gilead Sciences under the HepConnect Initiative. HepConnect is a regional initiative to mobilize and expand capacity for organizations working with people who use drugs in five states significantly impacted by rising hepatitis C (HCV) rates: Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“With COVID complicating the response to overdose prevention and infectious disease transmission, it’s more important now than ever to direct resources into our most vulnerable communities. NHRC is thrilled to support and partner with HepConnect grantees as they work to deepen harm reduction across the region,” said Monique Tula, Executive Director of National Harm Reduction Coalition.

Grantees will use funds to provide new or expanded harm reduction services for people who use drugs (e.g. supplies, outreach sites and mobile vans, and testing materials) or to educate the community about harm reduction (e.g. public education, advocacy campaigns). Funding also supports staffing and creating positions, training, and support groups for people who use drugs.

“Amid the challenges of the pandemic, HepConnect grantees continued to deliver much-needed innovative care and expand testing and harm reduction services in the states with high rates of HCV infection,” said Brett Pletcher, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and General Counsel, Gilead Sciences. “We are grateful to the National Harm Reduction Coalition for the impactful work it continues to do and we are hopeful that this support will enable additional community organizations to help end this preventable and treatable disease." 

With $9.5 million dollars in requests, the 30 projects awarded the 33-month funding allocation were selected by a committee of regional and national harm reduction experts, including people with lived experience. Awards focused on projects that would have the most impact with people who inject drugs and selected grantees were required to articulate both the need and how they would include impacted communities in their projects. 

Beyond funding support, the HepConnect Initiative will also include a regional team including the Regional Director, the Harm Reduction Resource Manager and the Southern States Regional Organizer to support grantees and other groups and organizations with technical assistance, community mobilization, and site visits. 

“The HepConnect Initiative is an amazing opportunity to bolster the leadership of regional experts. We are so honored to have a role in creating a strong continuum for harm reduction in these communities,” said Dr. Orisha Bowers, HepConnect Regional Director at National Harm Reduction Coalition. 

Grantees represent local syringe access and harm reduction programs, public health departments, and other organizations working in their respective regions to expand access to harm reduction and support services for people who use drugs: 

Indiana Grantees ($707,952) 

  • Aliveness Project of Northwest Indiana, Imani and Unidad, Indiana Recovery Alliance, The Never Alone Project

Kentucky Grantees ($782,439) 

  • Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition, Central Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition, Madison County Health Department, Muhlenberg County Health Department, Whitley County Health Department

North Carolina Grantees ($1,113,901)

  • Center for Prevention Services, North Carolina Harm Reduction, North Carolina Survivors Union, Steady Collective, The Olive Branch Ministry, Twin City Harm Reduction Collective, North Carolina AIDS Action Network

Tennessee Grantees ($1,154,340)

  • Choice Health Network / Positively Living, Next Step Initiative, Street Works, Tennessee Recovery Alliance, Partnership to End AIDS Status (PEAS), WeCareTN, Relationship Unleashed

West Virginia Grantees ($731,597) 

  • Milan Puskar Health Right, Virginia Harm Reduction Coalition, The Community Education Group, Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR) - West Virginia

Regional Grantees ($432,000)

  • Provide Inc., Community Liver Alliance, SisterReach

Funding and ground support for organizations in the region arrives after an 18 month process of service provision, technical assistance, meaningful community involvement, including an initial five state launch events attended by more than 400 people and community listening and consultation calls with more than 140 individuals who identified organizational, local and state-level dynamics, barriers, and opportunities to expand harm reduction services. 

Community stakeholders consulted in the process included people who use drugs, harm reduction organizations, health departments and other community leaders in the region. Key barriers identified with community stakeholders included limited access to syringe service programs, barriers to medication assisted treatment and restrictions for hepatitis C treatment affecting service provision in the region. 

In October 2019, National Harm Reduction Coalition and Gilead Sciences, Inc. announced $5.3 million in funding for 32 organizations providing harm reduction education and services.  In March 2020, Gilead Sciences awarded over $135,000 in emergency funding to 18 grantees in response to the Covid19 pandemic. 

To learn more about how HepConnect grantees were selected and how awards were determined, please view the report, From Project Launch to Grant Awards: Creating the HepConnect Initiative Harm Reduction and Community Education Program.

To read more about the specific projects and grantees, you can visit

About National Harm Reduction Coalition

The National Harm Reduction Coalition is a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes health and justice for people and communities affected by drug use. Learn more at

About HepConnect

HepConnect is a five-year, multi-million dollar initiative to help address the increase in HCV infections in greater Appalachia, focused on expanding HCV screening, linking people to care, improving healthcare professional education and supporting evidence-based harm reduction services through partnerships. To learn more, visit