Project dates: November 2011 - May 2013
Harm reduction refers to policies, programs and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unable or unwilling to stop. The defining features are the focus on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of drug use itself, and the focus on people who continue to use drugs. There has not been research focused on the links between laws and regulations in the U.S. that allow and/or restrict harm reduction interventions, including syringe exchange programs (SEPs) and naloxone delivery and how they impact health outcomes among injecting drug users (IDUs). The project included a review of state and local laws pertaining to SEPs, non-prescription sale of syringes, and naloxone delivery as well as a review of harm reduction programs, including, size, reach, and their scope of services. They also analyzed health outcomes of drug users, including new cases of HIV and Hepatitis C, and overdose deaths. The study will contribute to improved public health efforts to reduce HIV and HCV incidence in the U.S.