By Brun González – Youth RISE IWG, Espolea Harm Reduction Program Coordinator
Harm reduction started as a response to the AIDS epidemic and the undeniable link it showed with a drug use through specific methods of consumption, and within a few specific populations (mainly heroin used intravenously and within people who use drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men). This is why the strongest pillars of harm reduction services, practices and recommendations around the world focus mainly on condom distribution, opiate substitution treatment (methadone or buprenorphine) and needle and syringe exchange programs.
Although each of these areas of work are very important and to some extent go beyond their initial goals, for example condoms are useful to all people other than just heroin users or sex workers, and syringes and needles can be used to inject other drugs and not just heroin or opiates. However, many aspects of harm reduction ignore the majority of people who use drugs and who could really benefit from a harm reduction perspective for their own drug using situation and the impacts it has on their life.
These kind of harm reduction interventions include, besides the condoms and maybe sometimes the possibility to access clean and sterile injecting equipment, practical, friendly and objective information regarding different substances, both new and old, that are usually consumed via methods other than injecting.
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