Harm reduction

The 26st of June is the International Anti-drug day. A lot of individuals, communities and various organizations all over the world support this day for raising awareness to the concerns that people who use drugs face in society.

One of the core activities of AFEW International is harm reduction. Harm reduction covers the policies, programs and practices aimed to reduce the harms that might come along with the use of psychoactive drugs. There is a focus on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of drug use itself. Besides, harm reduction is a movement for the social justice that is built on a belief in the rights of people who use drugs. Harm reduction is an approach where the health and quality of life of people who use drugs is the focus and where the drug use is taken as a given circumstance. It became widely accepted by its proven effectiveness in the battle against HIV and was recognized when HIV started to spread among and from injecting drug users.

The number of new HIV infections among people who inject drugs increases in Eastern Europe and Central Asia every year. In the EECA region, harm reduction is mostly accepted only as a response to HIV. The coming years AFEW will work on better demonstration that harm reduction is effective in more ways and build healthy societies that work towards reaching Sustainable Development Goals.

In the Bridging the Gaps: health and rights for key populations project AFEW has activities to increase access to health services for people who use drugs. Most countries of the EECA region have laws that criminalize drug use, AFEW advocates for more humane legislation for possession and use of drugs. Stigma and discrimination are major barriers for access to health services, AFEW makes health care providers aware about their attitudes and trains them in human rights and client centred health care. Furthermore, AFEW strengthens capacity of people who use drugs organisations and trains skills for advocacy, peer support, and research.

AFEW is a member of Correlation Network – European Network Social Inclusion and Health.



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