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About HRI

HRI is a leading non-governmental organisation working to reduce the negative health, social and human rights impacts of drug use and drug policy by promoting evidence-based public health policies and practices, and human rights based approaches to drugs. Read more about HRI’s history.

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Our vision is a world in which individuals and communities benefit from drug laws, policies and practices that promote health, dignity and human rights.


Meet our staff at HRI


HRI is governed by a nine person Board of Directors, elected for three-year terms.

What is harm reduction?

Harm reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unable or unwilling to stop. The defining features are the focus on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of drug use itself, and the focus on people who continue to use drugs.

Harm reduction definition and principles in 12 languages

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Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or queries about our website, our work, membership or the international harm reduction conference.


HRI benefits from the generous support of the Open Society Foundations, the European Commission, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the MAC AIDS Fund, UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank, The Robert Carr Networks Fund and the Swiss Government.

Harm Reduction International Awards

HRI presents a number of awards at outr international conference to acknowledge the contributions of outstanding groups or individuals in the field.

Strategic Plan

Our vision is a world in which individuals and communities benefit from drug policies, laws and practices that promote health, dignity and human rights

Our Work

Evidence for advocacy

HRI produces groundbreaking research and policy analysis informing advocacy across our sector.

Spending where it matters

Funding for harm reduction services is dangerously short while billions are wasted on drug enforcement. HRI works to assess resourcing needs and advocates for a reinvestment in health.

Harm Reduction Decade

Read our latest report calling for a Harm Reduction Decade, sign the Harm Reduction Decade Declaration, call for #10by20, and stand up for human rights of people who use drugs, their families and communities.

10 by 20 Campaign

We are calling on governments to redirect 10% of the resources currently spent on ineffective punitive responses to drugs and invest it in harm reduction by 2020.

Human rights-based policy

Human rights abuses and drug enforcement go hand in hand. HRI challenges laws, policies and practices that generate harm.

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences

HRI monitors the death penalty for drugs in law and practice worldwide, and also considers critical developments on the issue.

Sector strengthening

HRI builds advocacy coalitions and supports emerging harm reduction networks to strengthen the international harm reduction sector.

International conference

Harm reduction is a global movement. Our biennial gathering is the International Harm Reduction Conference, convened by HRI.


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Read the latest announcements and updates from HRI.

Global State of Harm Reduction

Global State of Harm Reduction

Our flagship publication is the biennial Global State of Harm Reduction report. First published in 2008, it involves a coordinated effort across practitioners, academics, advocates and activists to map global data and responses to HIV and hepatitis C epidemics related to unsafe injecting and non-injecting drug use. It is the only report to provide an independent analysis of the state of harm reduction in the world. The information collated within the report is stored and regularly updated on an interactive e-tool for researchers and advocates.

The Global State of Harm Reduction report is supplemented by regular thematic reports and advisories on key issues and emerging challenges. Please search our Resource Library for more information or join our e-list for regular updates.

Interactive e-tool

Global State of Harm Reduction’ e-tool is an interactive resource containing up-to-date information on harm reduction policy and programming around the world. Users can select countries or regions and create tables for an at-a-glance guide to the current state of harm reduction worldwide.

Resource Library

Resource Library

Use our extensive resource library to search for HRI, NGO and academic reports, articles and presentations, including materials from past international conferences.

Harm Reduction Journal

Harm Reduction Journal, www.harmreductionjournal.com, is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal whose focus is on the prevalent patterns of psychoactive drug use, the public policies meant to control them, and the search for effective methods of reducing the adverse medical, public health, and social consequences associated with both drugs and drug policies.

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Contact Us

Harm Reduction International
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90 London Road
SE1 6LN  

Tel: +44(0) 207 717 1592
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Conference 2019

The 26th Harm Reduction International Conference (HR19) which will take place April 28-May 1 in Porto, Portugal at the Alfândega Porto Congress Centre.

Register to attend HR19 here.

Russia: Government Shuts HIV-Prevention Group’s Website

Date: 08 February 2012

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For Immediate Release

Russia: Government Shuts HIV-Prevention Group’s Website
Move is an Assault on Freedom of Expression

(Moscow, February 8, 2012) – The Russian government’s anti-drugs agency has ordered the blocking of the website of a public health organization, the Andrey Rylkov Foundation, for discussing the addiction medicine methadone, human rights groups said today. The move is an assault on freedom of expression in the midst of pro-democracy protests, the groups said.

The order from the Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) Moscow Department went into effect on February 3, 2012. The order claims the move is due to the “placement of materials that propagandize (advertise) the use of drugs, information about distribution, purchasing of drugs and inciting the use of drugs.”

Methadone, which the World Health Organization classifies as an essential medicine for the treatment of opiate dependence, is illegal in Russia.

The website is maintained by the Andrey Rylkov Foundation, which advocates health-based drug policies and has been a vocal critic of the Russian government’s ban on methadone. The website included international research findings on methadone showing that this treatment reduces HIV risk among users of heroin and other opiates and also helps people stay on AIDS and TB treatments. An English version of the website is online at www.rylkov-fond.org.

“People all over the world take this medication for granted, but here in Russia it’s central to our struggle against HIV and it’s banned,” said Anya Sarang, president of the foundation. “Now, even our speaking about it seems to be banned.”

International health and human rights groups including ARTICLE 19, Human Rights Watch, Harm Reduction International, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, criticized the government’s decision.

“The government has nothing to gain by censoring this small organization for trying to help people stay safe,” said Diederik Lohman, senior health researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is totally unacceptable and evidence of the Russian authorities’ ongoing resistance to internationally accepted methods of HIV prevention and international standards for freedom of expression.”

Russia has one of the largest populations of injecting drug users in the world, as well as one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics. An estimated 980,000 people are living with HIV in Russia. In some regions, as many as 80 percent of those with HIV contracted the virus through contaminated injection equipment.

“The right to information is essential to realizing the right to health,” said Agnes Callamard, executive director of ARTICLE 19. “State authorities should respect the right to health and refrain from restricting access to health-related information or withholding or intentionally misrepresenting health-related information. A government agency such as Federal Drug Control Service should not have the ability to ban websites at the whim of a bureaucrat. This is particularly so when considering the impact of censoring discussions relating to drug addiction or HIV/AIDS."

The Russian government refuses to allow methadone treatment, despite dozens of studies from around the world showing the medicine to be effective in HIV prevention and treatment. Instead, Russian officials recommend “narcology”, an abstinence-based system designed to treat alcoholics and largely ineffective or harmful for those dependent on opiates.

“In Russia, with so many people contracting HIV through injecting with unsterile equipment, and with thousands of overdose deaths each year, accurate and objective health information among people who inject drugs is a matter of life and death,” Said Dr. Evan Wood of the International Center for Science in Drug Policy.

In 2006, the Russian government forced the closure of another website, by the prominent physician Vladimir Mendelevich, which contained information about methadone.

Human rights and health advocates contend that Russia’s failure to allow information or services helpful to drug users breaches international human rights law and public health norms.

“Russia has a duty to respect, protect and promote access to health care, including for effective drug treatment and HIV prevention” said Rick Lines, executive director of Harm Reduction International. “Instead, they are slamming the door on basic health information and sending the message to millions of citizens that their lives are not worth saving.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on health and human rights, please visit:

To read this press release in Russian please click here.

For more information, please contact:
In London, for Article 19, Nathalie Losekoot (English, Russian): +44-207-324-2500; or nathalie@article19.org
In London, for Harm Reduction International, Ekaterine Iakobishvili (English, Russian): +44-(0)-7925-610-407; or eka@hri.global
In New York, for Human Rights Watch, Diederik Lohman (Russian, English, Dutch): +1-646-645-4902; or Diederik.lohman@hrw.org
In Moscow, for the Andrey Rylkov Foundation, Ivan Varentsov (English, Russian): +79-16-64-25-682; or ivar1981@gmail.com
In Vancouver, for the International Center for Science and Drug Policy, Dr. Evan Wood (English): +1-604-314-7971; or evanw@cfenet.ubc.ca

The Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (ARF) is a grass-roots organization from Russia, whose mission is to promote and develop humane drug policy based on tolerance, protection of health, dignity, and human rights.

Russia has approximately 1.8 million people who inject drugs and are at risk of HIV, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Global Report: UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2010.

Russia has the second-highest HIV prevalence in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, after Ukraine. Together, they account for more than 90 per cent of all new HIV diagnoses in the region, according to the 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report; 2010 UNAIDS Epidemic Update.

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, Human Rights Watch gives voice to the oppressed and holds oppressors accountable for their crimes.

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organization that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

Harm Reduction International is a leading nongovernmental organization in the HIV and drug policy field working towards a world where individuals and communities benefit from drug laws, policies and practices that promote health, dignity, and human rights.

The International Center for Science in Drug Policy is an international network of scientists, academics, and health practitioners committed to improving the health and safety of communities and individuals affected by illicit drugs.

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network promotes the human rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS in Canada and internationally, through research and analysis, advocacy and litigation, public education, and community mobilization. The Legal Network is Canada's leading advocacy organization working on the legal and human rights issues raised by HIV/AIDS.

© 2018 Harm Reduction International.

Charity number – 1117375 | Company number – 3223265

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