Harm Reduction can refer to a general practice or philosophy, and also a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with various human behaviours (both legal and illegal). We meet people ‘where they’re at’ and offer them help if they want it. We believe in the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services to improve quality of life for the individual, and the entire community. The Harm Reduction philosophy underpins all aspects of our organization – this is an evidence based, effective way of helping people, with no moral judgements attached.
Harm Reduction and HIV Transmission
Reducing Transmission through sex:
- Use condoms, which are physical barriers that can reduce the risk of a sexual exposure to HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
- Male condoms, also called external condoms, are a sheath made from latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene that covers the penis during sexual intercourse. Male condoms come in various colors, textures and flavours, and with correct usage are effective in HIV prevention 98% of the time.
- Female (or insertive) condoms are shaped like a large male condom and are made of polyurethane or nitrile. They are either inserted into the vagina for vaginal sex, and, although they were not designed for anal sex, are used by some to prevent the anal transmission of HIV and STIS. Insertive condoms’ effectiveness when used vaginally is similar to male condoms. The protective level for insertive condoms used for anal sex has not been reported.
- HIV is very rarely passed through oral sex, but dental dams can still be used as a physical barrier or to reduce the risk of transmission of other STIs like herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea and syphilis.
www.catie.ca/en/fact-sheets/prevention/condoms – CATIE condom information
www.impactprogram.org – female condom for anal sex video
Reducing Transmission through Drug Equipment:
- Use new needles for each injection.
- Use your own drug equipment instead of sharing with others (alcohol swabs, water, cookers, spoons, filters, drug pipes, bills or straws for snorting)
- Use needle exchange programs to get new needles and supplies and return used needles
- Get tested for HIV, HCV and STIs, and talk to the healthcare professional about treatment if any of the test results are positive .
For more information, visit CATIE at www.catie.ca/en/prevention/substance-use
Harm Reduction and Safer Drug Use Posters
In summer 2016 AIDS Saskatoon produced a series of posters aimed at reducing the harm associated with drug use at Ness Creek Festival in Saskatchewan. This poster series was designed to provide useful advice for anyone using drugs at Ness Creek. You can see part of our campaign below.