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It was 1986 in the UK. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, and in wood-paneled rooms near the Houses of Parliament, ministers were being briefed on a significant public health threat: HIV.

I’m a public health social scientist. Until then, my career had mainly focused on research with people who use heroin and other opiates. Thanks to my experience, I found myself helping to develop and evaluate a harm reduction approach in the UK, before it was even named as such. My work became focused on helping people who inject drugs avoid HIV infection.