As the first Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Program, Heather Edney created one of the earliest feminist-run harm reduction agencies in the U.S.
In the mid-‚90s, Heather and a dedicated team of volunteers engineered an innovative DIY organization that utilized punk aesthetics, Feminist & Queer theory, cutting-edge harm reduction modalities as well as creating one of the first risk reduction models that included holistic healthcare practices.As the fourth authorized syringe exchange program in the US, SCNEP was groundbreaking in its work with young injection drug users and sex workers. They spearheaded the first Hepatitis A & B vaccination campaign in the State of California, partnering with UCSF on the study of young injection drug users, and participated in pioneering academic studies on drug use, HIV/AIDS and a spectrum of related illnesses. Their revolutionary ideas and programs remain the bedrock of harm reduction today.
Edney and her colleagues created one of the earliest informational zines, titled junkphood which was written by and for young injection drug users. The zines, fliers were responsible for expanding the field of harm reduction through wound care, overdose prevention, and a host of similar modalities. They were also the first syringe exchange program that designed their services specifically for women and were at the vanguard of bringing the voice of feminism into the national harm reduction conversation.Today, Edney is writing the history of the Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Program with Greg Ellis, Curator of @Ward5B under the imprint of Anthology Press.