Why HIV harm-reduction works


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The Independent Online

The fact it has taken the Government years to pass legislation adding foil to the list of paraphernalia drug workers can legally dispense is another example of how the UK’s drug laws are out of touch. This is despite overwhelming evidence that moving people from injecting heroin to smoking it is positive in terms of public health.

It is estimated that more than half of people who inject drugs in the UK have hepatitis C, a debilitating condition that can be fatal. Reducing its prevalence should be a priority but it has taken the Home Office over a year to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

The use of foil to change drug-using patterns is based on evidence. Harm reduction works: the UK has one of the lowest rates of HIV among injecting drug users.

The rhetoric from the current Government has seen a move away from harm reduction to an abstinence-based ethos. Abstinence is not achievable for everyone. We must promote policies which reduce harms and do not further marginalise people who use drugs.

Niamh Eastwood is the executive director of the drugs charity Release