Harm Reduction is an acknowledged part of drug policy in almost all countries in Europe due to overwhelming evidence that it is an effective measure to protect people who use drugs from harm and unintended consequences of drug use. Harm reduction in a broader sense is applied with an holistic approach, taking into account the wellbeing of the individual, the social and health aspects of drug policy such as criminalization and stigmatisation on the one side and social inclusion on the other side.
Harm reduction requires sufficient resources, capacities and full integration in the social and health system of a country, as well as the inclusion of civil society and community members and their representatives in the drafting of policies.
Harm Reduction conferences have a long lasting history in Europe, with in the last couple of years conferences in Marseille 2011, Basel and Amsterdam in 2014.
In 2018, the conference will be organised by the Correlation Network in cooperation with Romanian partners and different European Networks and partners, such as Infodrug Switzerland, the European Network of People Who Use Drugs, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the European Joint Action HA-REACT.
The European Harm Reduction Conference is aimed at professionals that work in the areas of harm reduction, treatment, prevention, medicine, research, law enforcement, and politics and finally but importantly drug user and community organisations.
Aims of the Conference
The conference will present the latest harm reduction research results, innovative and next best-thing practices and discuss drug policy including the need to scale up harm reduction services.
Last but not least,the conference provides an appropriate platform to create a link between national and European developments in drug policies and harm reduction.
The conference is co-organised with the European Joint Action on HIV and Co-infection Prevention and Harm Reduction (HA-REACT). HA-REACT addresses existing gaps in the prevention of HIV and other co-infections, especially tuberculosis and viral hepatitis, among people who inject drugs (PWID). It focuses particularly on EU Member States where there are obvious gaps in effective and evidence-informed interventions, or where such interventions are not being implemented at a sufficient level.
This three-year project has its core funding from the European Union and is being implemented by 22 partners in 18 EU Member States. Twelve collaborating partners include the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
HA-REACT work has focused on increasing PWID access to testing for HIV, TB and viral hepatitis and strengthening linkages to care for people tested; overcoming barriers to the scale-up of harm reduction services for PWID; improving harm reduction and health services in prisons; and promoting patient-centred integrated care for PWID.
The special session by HA-REACT will focus on harm reduction services in Europe for PWID, presenting new findings from this major European project.