A- A A+

Harm reduction refers to strategies that aim to reduce the harms associated with injecting drug use.

The earliest forms of harm reduction promoted abstinence from drug use and put reducing its occurrence at the centre of substance use policy and interventions.

The concept of harm reduction was re-invented in the early 1980s at the beginning of the HIV epidemic when healthcare workers started to provide clean syringes to people who inject drugs (sometimes referred to as PWID) rather than solely trying to achieve abstinence.

Since then, there has been slow but steady progress in implementing harm reduction programmes as a component of the response to the HIV epidemic, with a wide range of initiatives tried to datein a variety of settings.

However, of the 158 countries that report drug use, only 91 of them explicitly reference harm reduction in their national policies (58%). Moreover, few countries have achieved sufficient coverage of harm reduction services. (AVERT, UK, 24.04.2017)