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  • Harm reduction is a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with various human behaviors, both legal and illegal. Harm reduction policies are used to manage behaviors such as recreational drug use and sexual activity in numerous settings that range from services through to geographical regions. Critics of harm reduction typically believe that tolerating risky or illegal behaviour sends a message to the community that such behaviours are acceptable and that some of the actions proposed by proponents of harm reduction do not reduce harm over the long term. Needle-exchange programmes reduce the likelihood of users of heroin and other drugs sharing the syringes and using them more than once. Syringe-sharing can lead to infections such as HIV or hepatitis C can spread from user to users through the reuse of syringes contaminated with infected blood. Needle and syringe programme and Opioid Substitution Therapy outlets in some settings offer basic primary health care.

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