International Harm Reduction Conference.
BDP staff attended this year’s International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in October. Two of our staff members were invited to present results from several BDP projects and to explore exciting harm reduction initiatives taking place across Malaysia and Hanoi, Vietnam, which are helping to reduce the sharing rates amongst injecting drug users.
The 2015 IHRA conference, “A Call for Leadership”, reflected the decreasing funds being spent on Harm Reduction globally and the impact this has, and will continue to have, on health amongst most at risk groups, especially HIV and Hepatitis C rates.
Malaysia was chosen to host the conference in recognition of their huge 50% reduction in HIV transmission rates amongst People Who Inject Drugs following the roll out of Needle Syringe Programmes only 10 years ago. This fantastic achievement is set against Malaysia’s ongoing punitive approach to drug use, with a mandatory death penalty for some drug offences and 123 Compulsory Drug Detention Centres still existing despite the commitment to moving to voluntary treatment.
During the conference, we showcased our 2014 music festival project - presenting our innovative harm reduction tools developed for festival audiences, as well as the results of a survey revealing drug use trends of festival-goers. Click here to view our festival project.
We also showcased results from a clinical trial which explored if offering same-day methadone prescription to heroin users increased the uptake and retention of treatment. Click these links to view the Script In A Day trial and quantitative research posters.
Finally, in the exhibition hall of the conference, we screened our beautiful short film made about the Older Peoples service at BDP. Watch it below:
Attending the Inernational Harm Reduction Conference was a fantastic opportunituy to find out about the work going on in different countries and the different cultural and political barriers that can affect our goals. The conference explored a broad range of areas around drug and alcohol use, with sessions focusing on specific audiences, incluidng "Women who use drugs", to broaded topics surrounding "Human Rights and policy reform" and “Ending the death penalty for drug offences”.
Throughout the conference we sat in on numerous harm reduction talks and discussions with direct relevance to our work and goals in Bristol. Areas of particular interest included: “Hepatitis C, prevention and risks”, “Novel Psychoactive substances: challenges for policy makers and service providers”, “MSM, chemsex and community norms” and “Overdose response”. Meeting the other agencies, charities and health services who attended, was a valuable experience and allowed us to all share resources and discover fantastic harm reduction projects taking place across the world.
Stay tuned for part two where we go on the road to meet the workers and staff of harm reduction projects highlighted during the conference.