UPRISE & Participant Action

Uniting Peers for the Rights of Injectors and Sex Workers Everywhere (UPRISE) takes us back to our activist roots and encourages people who use drugs and engage in sex work to be advocates for their own communities. The peer-to-peer relationship honors the expertise of people who use drugs or engage in sex work that is needed to engage isolated and stigmatized individuals.

UPRISE includes a rigorous workshop training component and a supervised Field Practicum during which Peer Trainees learn to be effective health educators and community advocates. Over 70 participants apply to UPRISE during each bi-annual training cycle, and up to 10 Peers graduate per cycle. Peer Trainees conduct weekly street outreach and syringe exchange, and provide health education and social service referrals to their peers who use drugs or engage in sex work so that they can live healthier and more stable lives.

Upon completion of UPRISE, Peers become exceptionally active in empowering their communities to respond to inequities in public benefits administration, homelessness and affordable housing provision, substance use treatment, and discriminatory law enforcement and the criminal justice process.


NYHRE acknowledges that many of the harms associated with drug use and sex work are a direct result of the “War on Drugs” and the criminalization of sex work. Unfortunately, our participants are negatively impacted by these unjust policies related to drug use and sex work on a daily basis. NYHRE seeks to educate and actively involve our participants in efforts to change policies to reduce the harms associated with drug use and sex work, and increase access to vital services, while facilitating their empowerment through self-advocacy.

NYHRE participants are given opportunities to speak at rallies, meet with legislators, speak to the media, and march with their peers in the streets. Participant Action activities and campaigns are focused on the issues that participants care about and are affected by so that they feel connected and can have a personal role in social change.

The Participant Action Program coordinates Participant Action meetings to provide NYHRE participants with campaign and media updates, and trainings on how best to affect change. The Participant Action Program also conveys feedback about how to improve programs and services from NYHRE’s Participant Advisory Board to Executive staff.

NYHRE POLICY STATEMENTS (“what we stand for”)

End the “War on Drugs” and decriminalize all drug use and drug paraphernalia

1.53 million people were arrested in the U.S. in 2011 on nonviolent drug charges (DPA Website)

More than $51, 000,000,000 spent annually in the U.S. on the War on Drugs (DPA Website)

Decriminalize sex work

4,054 Total Prostitution related arrests in NYC in 2011 (DCJS, Computerized Criminal History system)

57% of sex workers interviewed by DOHMH reported having their condoms taken away, damaged, or destroyed by the NYPD

45.7% of sex workers interviewed by PROS reported not carrying condoms at some point out of fear of police repercussion

 Police Accountability

NYPD used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years

In 2011 the NYPD made 685,724 street stops. Black and Latino males between the ages of 14 – 24 accounted for 41.6% of the stops in 2011. No gun was retrieved in 99.9% of stops (NYCLU website)

Affordable and sustainable housing for drug users, sex workers, and people living with HIV/AIDS

113,319 people living with AIDS/HIV as of 12/31/2011

Free HIV and Hepatitis C testing and linkages to care should be made available to everyone

Affordable HIV and HCV medication and treatment should be made available to everyone in need

Estimated 3.2 Million people are infected with HCV nationwide making it the most common blood born infection in the country (CDC)

Estimated 200,000 – 300,000 New Yorkers have HCV (NYCDOHMH)

25% of HIV+ people in the U.S. are co-infected with HCV (CDC)

About 80% of people with HIV who inject drugs also have HCV (CDC)

Naloxone should be available over the counter at all pharmacies at an affordable rate

Number of people in the U.S. that died from an accidental drug overdose in 2010: 38,329 (CDC website)