International Harm Reduction Day is celebrated annually to help bring awareness to evidence based public health policies and practices, and promote access to these services as a human right.
The AIDS Committee of Windsor’s (ACW) Harm Reduction program is one of many in Canada that embraces an evidence based approach to addiction which gives people who use drugs new materials that aid in reducing the transmission of blood borne infections such as HIV.
The goal is to help prevent detrimental and possibly lethal outcomes of drug use by empowering individuals with the resources to manage its practice and give guidance to those who have determined addiction treatment is their next step. Harm reduction benefits people who use drugs, their families, and the community.
In recognition of International Harm Reduction Day the ACW is encouraging everyone to wear yellow on May 7th to show their support of harm reduction and the rights of all individuals, including those with addictions, to receive equitable and non-judgemental access to community services. More particularly, people who use drugs, people whose lives are impacted by someone who uses drugs, and service providers who work with people who use drugs are urged to participate by wearing yellow.
It’s an opportunity to recognize, encourage, and embrace strategies that connect with the perspective of those who use drugs, without judgement and censure. Harm reduction does not just embrace the protection of the individual’s long term welfare and their human rights, but includes the safety of an entire community from a public health standpoint.
Harm reduction programs have been shown to reduce crime and increase employment among people who use drugs, reduce the number of used needles found in public spaces, and increase referrals to treatment programs and other social services.
If you’re looking to introduce the principles of harm reduction into your own life or organization below are a list of small steps that you can take.
• Volunteer at a local Needle Syringe Program;
• Talk to people. Ask questions. Taking the time to care for others inspires change;
• Learn safer sex and drug use practices. Ask trusted resources, such as ACW, for information, workshops, or training;
• Share what you’ve learned with friends and family; and
• Practice and/or advocate for safer sex and drug use.
Click here to find out more about the ACW Harm Reduction program.