Harm reduction and gay men’s HIV prevention could be considered two historic elements in our HIV response that have long stood separate from one another. Traditionally, HIV prevention with gay men focused on sexual risk, while harm reduction focused on risks associated with injection drug use. Both approaches have evolved over the decades and some might argue that safer sex is a form of harm reduction, but in the context of drug use, there has been little focus given to harm reduction in the context of gay men’s sexual health.
Despite the fact that harm reduction services and ideas are always started by people who use drugs, they are not always included in the design and delivery of these programs as they become more formalized, especially in healthcare settings and for medical issues related to drug use.
Canada’s overdose crisis continues to grow, claiming nearly 4,000 lives last year alone. In the midst of this emergency, more than 1,000 frontline workers converged in Edmonton last month for Stimulus 2018, Canada’s first national conference on harm reduction and drug policy.
We recently completed a study focused on how to improve SIS-police relationships. For this research, we interviewed SIS managers, program coordinators and police liaisons in Europe, Australia, Quebec and British Columbia, reviewed international literature on harm reduction training for police, and conducted focus group consultations with Toronto-based SIS/harm reduction workers, people who inject drugs and police. Our multi-stakeholder team (including researchers, SIS managers, harm reduction workers and student trainees) used the information we gathered to identify factors that may help to improve relationships between SIS and local police. Here are our five recommendations:
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.