In Italy, the need to contain the spread of HIV among injecting heroin users in the early 1990s involved setting up outreach programmes and low-threshold centres, and the provision of clean injecting equipment and drug treatment. This was the beginning of the shift towards ‘contacting and taking into care’ those who were not receiving treatment from drug treatment services. The harm reduction approach was further consolidated in the state-regional accord of 1999 and the interventions were defined in draft harm reduction guidelines, although these guidelines have not yet been endorsed.
Availability of selected harm reduction responses
NB Year of data 2016.
The range of harm reduction services and initiatives in Italy continues to be heterogeneous and diversified.
Some outreach programmes and projects exist at local levels and are operated by both public and private social and health organisations, together with specific projects funded through the National Drugs Fund; these usually include needle and syringe programmes, information dissemination and counselling.
Harm reduction programmes are more extensive in the northern and central Italian regions, and are usually located in the larger cities. Harm reduction interventions are delivered through mobile units, fixed sites (drop-in centres and reception units), outreach programmes and needle and syringe dispensing machines. A recent study indicates that, as well as needle and syringe exchange programmes, naloxone is also available in a number of surveyed harm reduction units
Harm reduction programmes are more extensive in the northern and central Italian regions, and are usually located in the larger cities