The chance of contracting HIV is 22 times higher for people who use drugs compared to the rest of the population. Fear of arrest and discrimination can make people reluctant to carry new syringes or disclose their use of drugs to health workers.

As a result, it is estimated that one in ten new HIV infections are caused by the sharing of needles and 25% of new infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa are among people who use drugs.

Moreover, it is estimated that there are approximately 11.8 million people who inject drugs worldwide and 13.1% of them are thought to be living with HIV. However, global provision of harm reduction interventions is critically low, with only 1% of people who inject drugs living in countries with high coverage.

Our harm reduction programmes can help change that.


We focus on support rather than punishment. By working with people who use drugs to design programmes that meet their specific needs, we provide rights- and evidence-based interventions. This includes:

  • Clean needle and syringe programmes.
  • Opioid substitution treatment.
  • Overdose management and information about safe injecting.

In addition to providing services, we also support people who use drugs who face human rights abuses. We advocate for changes to laws, policies and practices to support HIV prevention, treatment and care for people who use drugs.

We also support debates on effective approaches to respond to drug use. We advocate to national governments and international society to move away from punishing people who use drugs, encouraging more supportive and humane approaches to deal with drug use and its related social problems.

We also help people who use drugs, especially women who use drugs, to access other services, such as protection from violence and exploitation. By supporting independent peer-based networks, we break down barriers and encourage other people who use drugs to come forward for services.


We’re proud of the support our harm reduction services provide. In 2017, Frontline AIDS and our partners:

  • Provided harm reduction services to 300,000 people who use drugs and helped them to access HIV testing and treatment services.
  • Played an active role in global policy discussions, such as supporting community members to engage with policy makers in national and international spaces to advocate for drug policy changes.
  • Supported IDPC and HRI to develop and publish influential papers such as IDPC’s shadow report, and HRI’s Global State of Harm Reduction report.


Introduced to drugs as a teenager, Annabella is now struggling to stop using heroin. Like many young people who use drugs, she faces the daily threat of discrimination, violence and arrest, making it difficult to access the support she desperately needs.

“For my life to change, I need someone to talk to, somebody who cares,” says Annabella. “I would like the violence to stop, and access to methadone and friendly health services. I need shelter and somebody to give me a chance and a job.”

Annabella is determined to change her situation, and is now getting help from a Frontline AIDS partner. Through this support she is now accessing the health services she needs.

Read Annabella’s story


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