Michael Carden was born in Sterling, Illinois. He graduated from JH Rose High School in Greenville, NC in 1989. He attended NC State and graduated Summa Cum Laude with dual degrees in Psychiatry and English in 1996, after which he went on to obtain dual Masters Degrees in Rehabilitation and Substance Abuse Counseling from East Carolina University. He moved to New York City in 2001 and quickly found work with groups advocating public health for sex workers and injection drug users. Most recently, he was Project Director at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY and had a joint position at The Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at Weill Cornell Medical College. Michael provided medical and supportive services to people who use drugs and oversaw an NIH funded project evaluating the effectiveness of an integrated, multidisciplinary care model for delivering hepatitis C medical care and antiviral treatment to active drug users. His passion was in serving others and Michael has been called a ‘crusader’ by experts in his field.
Michael was an advocate to the fullest, and his caring and gentle ways with patients were unparalleled. He was on the Board of Trustees of the Washington Heights Community Outreach, Resources, Needle Exchange and Harm Reduction (CORNER) Project in New York City, courageously fighting for the rights of the underserved and aiding patients in obtaining safe, clean needles to prevent the spread of infections like hepatitis C and HIV. He was the Chair of the Board of Directors of the New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHE) organization, vigorously advocating for social justice and aiming to deliver health and social services to low-income persons who use drugs, their loved ones and their communities. He served as past President of the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council, was a member of the Hepatitis C Fair Pricing Coalition, served on the Steering Committee for the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, and was a member of the Hepatitis C Community Advisory Board, where he provided input to pharmaceutical companies regarding drug development programs and their impact on the poor.
Michael was a loving son, brother, uncle and friend. He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed by his colleagues, patients and friends.
I am deeply saddened to tell you that my friend and colleague, Michael Carden, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Monday, April 9, 2012.
Michael was loved and respected by his clients and colleagues. He will be remembered for his intelligence and long history of advocacy work on behalf of the clients he served. Michael and I worked together for 8 years, first at the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at Weill Cornell Medical College and then at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine since 2008. He was Project Director for the CHOICE Study, an NIH-funded project evaluating the effectiveness of an integrated, multidisciplinary care model that Michael developed for delivering hepatitis C medical care and antiviral treatment to active drug users using intensive case management to assist patients through the process of treatment.
Michael was the Chair of the Board of Directors of New York Harm Reduction Educators and served as past President of the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council. He was on the Board of Trustees of the Washington Heights CORNER Project since 2007, where he was integrally involved in carrying out the community needs assessment supporting the agency’s New York State Syringe Exchange Program application. Michael served on the Hepatitis C Fair Pricing Coalition, the Steering Committee for the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, and the Hepatitis C Community Advisory Board, where he provided input to pharmaceutical companies regarding their hepatitis C antiviral drug development programs.
Michael was kind, smart, and skilled as a clinician. The breadth of his skills and knowledge were matched only by their depth. He had a deep understanding of policy, research and the treatment of both substance use and hepatitis C. Michael understood addiction scientifically but also possessed the ability to connect with those affected by chemical dependency in a deeply human manner, while remaining objective enough to help them through their struggles. He understood the science of behavior change, and was skilled at helping people make difficult and challenging changes that they wanted but had been unable to make. He understood hepatitis C, its natural history, its medical evaluation, the variety of treatment options, and the risks and benefits of evaluation and treatment. He understood the complications of treatment and how to help people manage them. He understood how to provide information that would be absorbed and understood and support that was nourishing. He understood the medical aspects of addiction and its complications and was equally comfortable in medical and community settings. He understood how to design and conduct research that would make a difference. He understood policy — health policy, drug policy, the politics that surrounded them, and how to effect change. He was courageous, original, and deeply loyal to his beliefs. Michael's spirit will live long in the hearts and the work of the many whose lives he touched.
Michael is survived by his mother and stepfather Diannee and Stephen Glenn, and father Gene Carden, of Greenville, NC; his brother John and his wife Angel of Winterville, NC; his brother Marcus and his wife Claire of Richmond, VA; his brother Jeff of Rockford, IL; and his brother Steve of Ringgold, GA; four nieces (Elizabeth, Emily, Mallory, Brielle) and four nephews (Jimmy, Matthew, Jayce, Eli); and his cat Gressor.
Visitation will be held at Wilkerson Funeral Home in Greenville, NC, on Friday, April 13 with graveside service on Saturday, April 14. A memorial service celebrating the life of Michael will be held in New York City.
In lieu of flowers the family asks you to consider donations to:
Washington Heights CORNER Project
566 West 181st Street (at St. Nichols), 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10033
New York Harm Reduction Educators
953 Southern Boulevard, Suite 302
Bronx, NY 10459
Additional information is at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com/
-- Brian R. Edlin, M.D. | Professor of Medicine | SUNY Downstate College of Medicine
You may have known Michael, who was a friend, colleague and tireless advocate for drug user health.
A tremendous loss to those who knew Michael and for our movement.
-- Chris Taylor, Associate Director, Viral Hepatitis
National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD)
NVHR Steering Committee member Michael Carden died yesterday. Michael was a strong, passionate advocate for harm reduction and the health needs of people who inject drugs. He worked as Project Director at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College, where he managed studies of acute HCV infection in young injection drug users and multidisciplinary integrated care linking syringe exchange program participants to HCV treatment. He was a leader in hepatitis C advocacy in New York, and chaired the board of directors of two of New York City's leading syringe exchange programs, New York Harm Reduction Educators and Washington Heights Corner Project. He was also active in research advocacy through the Hepatitis C Advisory Board.
Michael was smart and wise, kind and funny, and well loved. His humor and generosity made him a good friend; his compassion and insight made him a skilled harm reductionist; and his intelligence and dedication made him a valuable advocate and ally.
At its heart, the harm reduction movement is a close-knit family of dreamers, radicals, and outsiders, tempering anger with hope, fighting stigma and marginalization with love. Michael was a beloved member of our family; he touched the lives of countless people, and his loss is deeply felt.
-- Daniel Raymond
Harm Reduction Coalition