2nd June issue

Taking a global snapshot

Why harm reduction must focus on the public health challenge.

BECOMING IMMERSED in an international harm reduction conference is quite an intense experience, but

that’s what we did last month at IHRA’s event in Barcelona. It was the first time DDN had been to this annual

event, and the first time we had been invited to produce daily magazines covering it. We decided to make the

most of the opportunity by sharing some of the insights to harm reduction revealed by delegates from different

countries, in this issue of the magazine.


Harm reduction so often becomes one half of an over-familiar polarised debate in the UK, but looking at the

reasoning behind basic measures to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C is a stark reminder of the public

health challenge at the heart of organisations such as IHRA. It was also an eye-opener to the different barriers to

accessing treatment services posed by different cultures. Harm reduction would be a different (and very remote)

concept to the drug using women in Ukraine (page 15), compared to the new International Sex Worker Harm

Reduction Caucus that brought their stand and their banners to the conference to demonstrate that being loud

and proud is essential to fighting the disease and discrimination that can so dangerously accompany stigma.


We’ve a lively letters page this fortnight (page 6), thanks to last issue’s cover story ‘Different roads’. It’s divided

our readers and provoked some strong comments on treatment philosophy which I hope will continue. The

varied backgrounds and experiences of our correspondents are enriching the debate.


There’s also another fan for Bri, whom I’d like to thank for sharing his story (page 19). We got to know Bri at

our service user involvement conference in January; he decided he would write his story in the hope of inspiring

at least somebody else to keep going when the going gets tough. It’s not easy to share your lowest moments,

but judging by some of the feedback he’s had, it’s been worth the painful memories.