What is the purpose of Counterpoint Needle & Syringe Program at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection?
- to reduce the transmission of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne infections among individuals who use drugs, and beyond into the larger community.
- to educate service users about the health risks associated with drug use.
- to provide information and materials necessary to practice safer drug use and safer sex.
- to provide referrals to other social services and health care agencies such as drug and alcohol treatment centres for those who want to stop using drugs, as well as doctors, hospitals, social workers housing and welfare support agencies, legal aid, etc.
Because Counterpoint provides people with information on how to use drugs safely, the assumption is often made that the program, and/or those who run it, see drug use as acceptable. This is incorrect. Needle & Syringe Programs see drug use as an accepted fact as opposed to "acceptable".
Whether or not injection drug use, or any drug use, is "acceptable" is a moral judgment. Such judgments are of little or no value in health promotion or in developing effective educational strategies that result in behaviour change. The simple fact is that some individuals are, for whatever reasons, injecting drugs and that some methods of injection drug use put people at a high risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne infections.
How do I dispose of needles or sharps?
For information on how to dispose of needles or sharps, visit our Safe Needle Disposal page.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health defines harm reduction as: Any program or policy designed to reduce drug-related harm without requiring the cessation of drug use. Interventions may be targeted at the individual, the family, community or society.