[Special Issue News] Australia: First, do harm reduction

Shortly after the AIDS epidemic surfaced in Australia, an aggressive effort began to prevent the spread of HIV in people who inject drugs. The harm reduction movement that evolved provided clean needles and syringes to users, as well as opiate substitutes like methadone that are not injected. A medically supervised injecting center also opened in Sydney—the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere—where people receive clean needles and syringes and legally use their drugs. HIV never got a serious foothold in this extremely vulnerable population, and Australia’s harm reduction strategies eventually spread to nearby Indonesia and Malaysia, which initially had epidemics driven mainly by injecting drug use.

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