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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.

Vision and Mission

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

Contact Us

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.


News and Announcements

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.

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.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Harm Reduction International
61 Mansell Street
E1 8AN

Tel: +44(0) 207 324 3535
Join us on Facebook at: Harm Reduction International
Follow us on Twitter at: HRInews
Join us on Instagram at: hrinews


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.

Why Harm Reduction Is Crucial to the Fight Against HIV

Date: 01 December 2017

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This article was first published by Open Society Foundations. The original may be found here.

Earlier this fall, an international team of researchers sounded a grim warning about the state of the global HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs. In two long-awaited research papers published in the Lancet, they laid out the evidence that not only is the scale of this epidemic worse than we thought, but that most countries are failing to provide the basic harm reduction interventions, like needle and syringe exchange programs and opioid substitution therapy, that are crucial to halting its spread.

In light of this evidence, world leaders and global agencies charged with leading the HIV response need to recognize that they can’t continue with business as usual. It’s time for them to call on governments to rethink their approach to drug policy and invest in harm reduction.

At Harm Reduction International, we’ve been tracking the global state of harm reduction since 2006, but the new data still surprised and alarmed us. The research shows that just one percent of the world’s people who inject drugs live in countries with widespread availability of two lifesaving harm reduction measures. Only 16 percent of them have access to opioid substitution therapy or medicines prescribed for opioid dependence—which is proven to significantly reduce transmission of HIV and hepatitis.

Meanwhile, harm reduction programs across the globe provide only a third of the number of sterile needles and syringes the World Health Organization deems necessary. The failure to invest in effective harm reduction measures has had a devastating effect. The new data suggests the UN has significantly underestimated the scope of the epidemic—the number of people who inject drugs who are living with HIV could be as high as 2.8 million worldwide, a huge leap from the 1.6 million figure currently used by UN agencies.

Although some of this gap may be the result of different research methods, it should still set alarm bells ringing.

By providing a global snapshot of the experiences of people who use drugs, these studies also hint at the reasons behind the shortcomings in the worldwide HIV response. For example, the second of the two papers estimates that a staggering 57.9 percent have a history of incarceration—proof that in far too many countries, there is always money for police raids and prisons, even as harm reduction services go unfunded. Governments continue to focus on drug control, even as the evidence mounts that the “war on drugs” has been a public health catastrophe.

Our 10 by 20 campaign offers a better path forward. We’re urging governments to redirect 10 percent of the vast resources they currently spend on drug control to harm reduction by the year 2020. Right now, the world spends $100 billion on drug law enforcement each year—and according to research we did with the Burnet Institute, spending just 7.5 percent of that amount on harm reduction instead could virtually end the HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs worldwide.

Nor are the benefits limited to HIV: effective harm reduction programs could also enable governments to get a grip on spiraling rates of viral hepatitis, prevent many of the fatal overdoses which are at crisis levels in many countries, and reduce drug-related homelessness and crime. Investing in harm reduction can actually help governments facing these crises save money. More importantly, it can help them save lives.

At Harm Reduction International, we work with a vibrant international network of harm reduction champions to argue for a shift towards drug policies that focus on public health and human rights—and we’ve shown that they can work. But the new evidence that’s emerged this fall shows we’re running out of time.

We need national governments to be brave enough to reject the war on drugs approach and invest in harm reduction instead. The leaders of the global HIV response can play a key role in persuading countries to take this leap. On December 1, World AIDS Day, we’re calling on them to recognize that we can’t talk about ending the HIV epidemic without talking about drug policy and putting harm reduction front and center.

© 2018 Harm Reduction International.

Charity number – 1117375 | Company number – 3223265

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