Published: April 12, 2019


Alabama – Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO), Selma AIR, and Five Horizons Health Services (FHHS) are launching a joint project to combat opioid abuse in 36 of Alabama’s 67 counties. Take Back, Educate, and Inundate, aims to address “Strengthening the Prevention and Education Infrastructure” one of six priority situational needs included in the 2017 strategic map developed by the Alabama Data Driven Prevention Initiative (DDPI) on Opioid and Heroin Abuse and Overdose.

Made possible by a commitment from AmeriSource Bergen Foundation, The Take Back, Educate, and Inundate Project represents a 3-pronged approach to combating the opioid crisis in Alabama by providing: 1) safe and secure prescription drug take-back disposal locations; 2) opioid prevention education in partnership with health providers, patients, and partnering agency team members; and 3) informative and motivational messages through social media and related digital medium to reach the broadest audience possible.

“Reports continue to reinforce the critical need to take back unused/expired opioids to keep them out of the hands of recreational drug users and those who might become addicted to them. It is equally important to educate staff and high-risk members of the community about prescription drug misuse, needle sharing, and how to address these issues with those who need care,” said Elana Parker Merriweather, Ed.S., AADC, LPC, BCC, MAO’s Director of Behavioral Health. “Together, Medical Advocacy and Outreach, Selma AIR and Five Horizons Health Services, can make a real difference.”

A unique aspect of this Project is its emphasis on reaching people living with HIV (PLWHIV). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated between 40% – 45% of injection drug users (IDU) are HIV positive. Additional estimates suggest 40% of PLWHIV are associated with IDU either directly or by having sex with an IDU user. Coupled with unsafe needle sharing practices – syringe exchange programs are currently illegal in Alabama – a greater risk of infecting others with HIV exists within this population and creates a need for other types of interventions.

West Alabama, especially Walker County, has been identified by the CDC as one of the 220 U.S. counties at high risk for an HIV outbreak as a result of the opioid epidemic. To maximize Project impact, partners have each agreed to assume a leadership role for roll-out in locations where their agencies have a significant presence. With multiple locations and presence in the southern third of Alabama, northwest Alabama, and the Black Belt, more than 50% of the state will be served through this initiative.

As the lead partner, MAO will provide both human and material support- and services to help all partners maximize community impact and achieve specific project goals. To learn more about the Take Back, Educate, and Inundate Project, call MAO’s Behavioral Health Division at (800) 510-4704, or watch for updates at MAOI.org.

To be part of message sharing and help inundate Alabama residents with life-saving information about opioids and HIV, follow the project partners on social media starting in March 2019.

The commitment by the AmerisourceBergen Foundation to the Project was part of collective commitments in Opioid Resource Grants and in-kind donations awarded to more than 20 organizations nationally in 2018 totaling in excess of $3.4 million. The Foundation is recognized for having identified and developed comprehensive opioid misuse and abuse initiatives, including the Opioid Resource Grant Program and the Safe Disposal Support Program, to redefine best practices and advance innovative ideas from nonprofits with the goal of improving the well being of communities around the world.

About Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) – (800) 510-4704 – MAOI.ORG
Facebook and Twitter – @MAOofAlabama ; Instagram – maoofalabama; LinkedIn – MAO
2900 McGehee Road, Montgomery, Alabama 36111 – (334) 280-3349 (Additional locations in Dothan and Atmore)

As a not-for-profit organization, MAO is dedicated to providing culturally competent, specialized medical and behavioral care, social and support services, and wellness education. Since 1987 MAO has offered an evolving menu of services for individuals affected by potentially life-threatening illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. PrEP is also available to help those not infected with HIV stay that way. MAO responds to the needs of more than 1,800 spanning 28 counties, and impacts an additional 4,500 annually through risk reduction education initiatives and free testing.

Facebook – @SelmaAIR; LinkedIn – selma-air—aids-information-and-resources
102 Central Park Place, Selma, Alabama 36701 – (334) 872.6795

Selma AIR is a not-for-profit, community-based AIDS service organization serving eight counties located in West-Central Alabama, also known as the Black Belt, including: Choctaw, Dallas, Hale, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry, Sumter, and Wilcox. The mission of Selma AIR is to facilitate community awareness and involvement in eliminating the spread of HIV/AIDS.

About Five Horizons Health Services (FHHS) – FIVEHORIZONS.ORG
Facebook and Twitter – @5HorizonsHS; Instagram – 5horizonshs
2720 6th Street, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401 – (205) 759-8470

Five Horizons Health Services (FHHS) is a not-for-profit, community-based organization that provides services to West Alabama. Founded in 1988 as West Alabama AIDS Outreach (WAAO), FHHS’ original mission was to provide HIV-related outreach and prevention services to West Alabama. Since 1988 FHHS has expanded to include a variety of services for populations in need of specialized or general care. FHHS strives to provide high-quality, patient-centered medical, prevention, testing and case management services.

About AmerisourceBergen Foundation – AMERISOURCEBERGENFOUNDATION.ORG

The AmerisourceBergen Foundation is an independent not-for-profit charitable giving organization established by AmerisourceBergen Corporation to support health related causes that enrich the global community. The Foundation aims to improve the health and well-being of its patient populations – both human and animal – by investing in its communities. Through strategic partnerships and community collaboration, the Foundation works to expand access to quality healthcare and provide sources to ensure prescription drug safety.

MEDIA CONTACT: Thomas Stephens, MAO Media Relations

Direct: (334) 836-0389 / Cell: (334) 479-1996
E-mail: tstephens@maoi.org