Key Strategies

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction interventions, which aim to reduce the harms associated with drug use, play a significant role in reducing HIV transmission.

Since 2007, the District of Columbia has developed expertise and invested resources in a network of harm reduction programs that serve people at high risk of acquiring HIV.  These programs provide a variety of services, including clean syringe distribution, used syringe collection, and community cleanups.  They also provide a wide array of HIV prevention services, including education, rapid HIV screenings, condoms, and access to treatment. The impact of harm reduction programs is evident by the data: There were only two new infections in people who inject drugs in 2019, compared with more than 100 in 2008. As DC Health looks toward a future where HIV is a rare occurrence, harm reduction will remain an important strategy and will be implemented through the following activities:

  • Enhance harm reduction programs​. 
  • Increase the number of community partners that integrate harm reduction within their portfolios.
  • Increase the number of providers that address polysubstance use within primary care settings​.
  • Increase promotion and education of harm reduction models and principles to reduce stigma of people who use drugs​.
  • Enhance integrated substance use treatment options, including buprenorphine-based medication assisted treatment with HIV prevention, e.g., pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)​.
  • Increase the number of peer educators and navigators​.
  • Establish a peer-led program and spaces.
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