Background: The opioid and HIV epidemics have impacted millions of people across the nation. Recent data reveal an upward trend in overdose deaths with opioids being the main contributor. Intravenous drug use has allowed for the transmission of sexually transmittable diseases such as HIV to spread within communities. Harm reduction methods have shown promise in helping to reduce opioid overdose deaths and HIV seroprevalence. However, the perceptions of persons who use drugs (PWUD) is an important factor to consider as they dictate their likelihood in engaging in such methods.
Methods: This rapid systematic review aimed to identify the perceptions of PWUDs towards harm reduction methods including naloxone, safe injection sites, needle-syringe exchange sites, fentanyl test strips, and opioid substitution treatment. Studies were selected from PubMed and Scopus databases using rigorous inclusion/exclusion guidelines following PRISMA guidelines. Data extracted from the selected studies included attitudes, benefits/barriers, and willingness to engage.
Results: Of the 966 articles retrieved from the database searches, 15 articles were selected for analysis. The studies revealed that PWUDs overall have positive attitudes towards harm reduction and are willing to utilize the harm reduction methods studied. Common benefits included effectiveness, safety, and privacy. Common barriers included cost, anticipated withdrawal symptoms, and traveling distance.
Discussion: The rapid review suggests that PWUDs generally perceive the included harm reduction methods to be useful and beneficial. The findings of this review should compel relevant stakeholders to make harm reduction interventions accessible to PWUDs and work to eliminate barriers from their engagement.
Tarhini, Ali, "Perceptions of Harm Reduction Among Persons Who Use Drugs (PWUD)" (2022). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 461.