This Holiday Season, Consider Giving to Project SAFE

Project SAFE is a 100% volunteer organization – by women and for women – getting much needed harm reduction supplies to those who need it most.

Consider including us in your holiday giving.

You can donate here!

Advancing Health by Reducing Harm: Increased Opportunities for Viral Disease Prevention

On Wednesday October 28th the Coalition for Syringe Access hosted two panel discussions on pathways to reduce the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C (HVC) among people who inject drugs. The panel brought together experts on disease transmission, prevention and recovery and law enforcement who highlighted opportunities to strengthen partnerships between public health and public safety programs to reduce infection rates.

Do People who Use Drugs have the “Mental Capability” for Life Saving HCV Treatment?

According to Modern Health Care, Jeff Myers, CEO of the trade group Medicaid Health Plans of America, responded to recent efforts by the federal government to expand access to curative treatments for Hepatitis C, a life-threatening disease that disproportionately impacts people who inject drugs.

CMS urged states to get rid of “abstinence” requirements for treatments, which has been widely supported in research, that demonstrates that people who inject drugs have treatment adherence comparable to non-drug using populations. “Myers defended barring heavy alcohol users from having access to hepatitis drugs, since the ongoing damage to their livers could counteract the drug’s effectiveness. He also said intravenous drug users might not have the mental capability to complete a full course of hepatitis treatment,” reported Modern Health Care.

We are taking a poll on twitter: what do you think? Do people who inject drugs lack a mental capability to be cured of hepatitis C? 

We are sharing our results with Medicaid Health Plans of America.


SAFE Volunteers @ “Awareness: Larry Clark’s Tulsa Series”

Larry Clark, born in 1943, an American photographer, film director and writer, documented his life and the lives of his friends and their drug use between 1963 and 1971. The culmination of this series of photographs was a book, “Tulsa,” published in 1971, and these images are now on display at Drexel University.

Project SAFE volunteers Nicole Fox and Jen Bowles recently spoke at an event at Drexel University with Professor Stephen E. Lankenau, illuminating the realities of injection drug use, especially among young people, in the context of prohibition and stigma. Data shows that since these photographs were taken, opioid misuse has risen significantly, and overdose is now the number one cause of accidental death in the United States.”We are not just fighting laws, but fighting an entire consciousness and ethos that casts drug users into the shadows,” said Jen Bowles.


The event was attended by several SAFE volunteers (pictured above). Awareness: Larry Clark’s Tulsa Series will be on display thorough November 13. Learn more here.

Project SAFE Information + Training Session Saturday, 11/14!

Please join us for an Information + Training Session

Saturday, November 14
@ GALAEI: 149 W. Susquehanna Ave, Philadelphia PA 19122

Project SAFE is an all-volunteer grassroots organization providing advocacy and support for women working in street economies. SAFE’s mission is to promote human rights-based public health among women working in the sex and drug trades on the streets of Philadelphia.

This event is open to all genders, all education levels, all professions – pretty much anyone who wants to learn more about harm reduction, sex worker rights, and the mission and practice of Project SAFE.

Please RSVP here

Questions? Send them to or call 1-866-509-7233 x 4.

We hope to see you there!

Beyond the Hype: Learn more about Decriminalization

Amnesty International has produced this video to debunk myths about their policy, and about sex work more generally.

“We believe that the decriminalization of sex workers themselves is essential to grant them the rights they are entitled to. We also are opposed to criminalization indirectly that leads to the practice going underground and the lack of safety.”

*Learn more about the collateral consequences of indirect criminalization here

Justice for Kiesha Jenkins

This post was originally printed in Philadelphia Gay News

The loss of Kiesha Jenkins came as a shock to Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community. Twenty-one trans women have been murdered in 2015, two in Philadelphia. Each time, we are hit with the same jarring impact and inconsolable grief.

We first want to acknowledge the amazing strides members of the media have made in reporting on transgender individuals, especially in their death. Kiesha’s name and identity have been respected and honored by a number of Philadelphia media outlets. This is largely due to tremendous efforts on behalf of activists and educators, who have worked very hard to raise awareness of the added violence of misgendering. This also shows that individuals and institutions are able to evolve.

As soon as Kiesha’s death was reported on, so was her work in the sex trade.

“It’s a high-risk behavior and people who engage in that activity are more at risk to have something bad happen to them,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said to 6 ABC. This has been used to frame Keisha’s murder as not motivated by her gender. We believe the targeting of Keisha as a sex worker is inextricable from her gender identity.

Solicitation of sexual services is criminalized in the state of Pennsylvania, and our state has some of the harshest charges for those convicted of prostitution. More than 70 women are currently incarcerated at this moment for this nonviolent offense, with countless more on probation, parole or system-involved because of their work.

Kiesha and Diamond Williams, who was brutally murdered in 2013, are both believed to have been working as sex workers at the time of their murders. This has been used to diminish their victimhood, and sadly many have echoed Ramsey’s statement and argued that, to avoid murder (as if it is a victim’s responsibility?), one should not do this work.

According to the Anti-Violence Project, transgender individuals face disproportionate amounts of workplace discrimination. This is also true in educational settings. On average, transgenders have a rate of poverty four times that of the cisgender population. A recent report from the Urban Institute highlights that many young LGBTQ individuals are kicked out of family homes, shelters and child-welfare services because of their gender identity or presentation. In many ways, transgender individuals are pushed out of the mainstream economy into sex work.

A recent study out of the United Kingdom shows that trans women are among the highest earners in the sex industry, charging higher rates than cis women or male-identified workers. Work in the sex trade is not only a survival option, but sometimes it can be a savvy choice, when transgenders are marginalized in every other industry.

Let us keep this in mind as we remember Kiesha. Transgender women are not putting themselves in danger — they are trying to survive.

And let us consider why she was targeted. According to a 2010 study, sex workers reported the highest rates of violence from police and health-care providers, clients and other third parties. Perpetrators know that because of their criminalized status — and stigma — sex workers rarely get justice for crimes committed against them. Famously, Judge Teresa Carr Deni (whom Philadelphia voters re-elected in 2014) ruled the gang rape of a sex worker at gunpoint was not “rape” but “theft of services” — a lesser charge. This is a common opinion of law enforcement, who rarely investigate reported rapes by sex workers, let alone robberies, stalking or intimate-partner violence.

Laws that criminalize sex work enable people to justify gender-based violence. Would Ramsey have said the same if Keisha was leaving her job as a waitress or a banker? We hope that Kiesha’s work in the sex trade will not be used to excuse violence against her — or anyone else.

What happened to Kiesha Jenkins and many others involved in sex work is a societal issue that needs to be addressed. What could Philadelphians be doing to prevent women like Kiesha from having to resort to engaging in high-risk behaviors to survive? How can we as a community develop programs to help reduce harm and risks?

Let us hold Kiesha’s memory in our hearts and continue to evolve as journalists, employers, educators, neighbors. Let us work to reform laws on nonviolent crimes, like prostitution. These do not protect anyone, but rather enable violence towards marginalized individuals, especially trans women of color. Let us consider how we could better allocate the taxpayer money used to police and incarcerate transgender women pushed into underground economies like sex work, and support their education, employment and prosperity.

With 21 trans women taken from us this year and so many of them young women of color, surviving seems itself enough of a victory — but trans women deserve to thrive.

Sharron L. Cooks is an activist, community organizer and owner and CEO of Making Our Lives Easier, LLC. Lindsay Roth is a community organizer and director of Project SAFE.

OASIS: Providing a Cure for Hep C to People Who Use Drugs

Check out Oasis, a film about a health clinic that treats people who use drugs for Hepatitis C.

Please note: Using drugs should NEVER be a reason you are denied treatment. Reach out to us or Philadelphia Hep C Allies for more information.

OASIS Trailer from Sara Lafleur-Vetter on Vimeo.

Save The Date!

Please mark your calendars for Saturday November 14th and spread the word! We will be holding our next information session and volunteer training for those interested in learning more about Project SAFE and working with our collective. The training will be held at GALAEI (149 W. Susquehanna Ave) from 1pm-4pm.

More information will be sent out shortly.


Missing Person Alert

Our community members are concerned for the safety of this person. Please circulate.

If you see her, the action plan is to contact the PPD.

Stay safe,

Project SAFE



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