Even faced with serious numbers of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other infections among injection drug users (IDUs), Argentina lacks large-scale harm reduction programs at national, state, and local levels. We describe the strong relationship of IDUs with the HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic in Rosario. We discuss a 2-year-long ongoing experience of drug-related harm reduction actions developed at a public health center, which began as a response to a spontaneous demand for needles and syringes and became a permanent and sustainable set of health actions for a group of nearly 50 IDUs, a larger number of drug users who do not inject, and their contacts. These actions comprise voluntary testing and counseling for HIV and other infections, reproductive counseling, condom promotion and distribution, and needle and syringe distribution without needle exchange. This experience, amenable to replication, shows that public health teams can engage successfully in harm reduction actions.
Journal Article. 3252 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology
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