People who use and inject drugs are among the groups at highest risk of exposure to HIV, but remain marginalized and out of reach of health and social services.

People who inject drugs need urgent access to harm reduction interventions, including needle–syringe programmes and opioid substitution therapy. There is irrefutable evidence that new HIV infections drop sharply when people who inject drugs have access to harm reduction and other public health programmes.

People who inject drugs, including people in prisons and other closed settings, need access to harm reduction services to prevent HIV infection, including needle–syringe programmes, opioid substitution therapy, antiretroviral therapy and nalaxone.

Evidence shows that harm reduction approaches such as needle-syringe programmes reduce the health, social and economic harms of drug use to individuals, communities and societies. They do not cause increases in drug use.

UNAIDS is calling for the global adoption of a peoplecentred, public health and human rights-based approach to drug use and for alternatives to the criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs.

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