Mainline room

House full

Mainline stands up for the rights and health of people who use drugs. Mainline focuses primarily on people who, related to drug use, experience problems in different areas of life and are therefore (threatened to) find themselves on the margins of society and/or people who run (considerable) health risks due to substance use.

House of Hiv – House of Mainline

Mainline was founded in 1990 by three young men who wanted to stop the Aids epidemic among IV drug users. The often unhygienic way people in that group were injecting drugs put them at extra risk. While Aids itself had been receiving more attention in society in the 1980s, this group of drug users was left to fend for themselves. They had to deal with withdrawal symptoms, life on the streets and their deteriorating health due to their drug use. Today, we know that IV drug users are twenty-nine times more likely to contract HIV than the average person.

Mainline A
Photo Maruschka Kraal
Mainline B
Photo Steef Meyknecht

Mainline’s founders recognised the need and decided to create a unique magazine with information on drugs and health. The magazine, with texts written in the language of the street, quickly became a hit among users. Thanks to support from the Municipality of Amsterdam and later also from the national government, the magazine was distributed nationwide in places where marginalised users hung out: alleys, parks, methadone-dispensing rooms and streetwalking zones.

Mainline’s outreach workers and editors maintained good contacts with HIV clinicians, psychiatrists and drug users, so that they could inform users directly about the latest developments in HIV medication. The harm-reduction method – for decades a pillar of drug policy in the Netherlands aimed at reducing (health) damage caused by drug use – proved to be a very cost-effective way to reduce HIV within this vulnerable group. But perhaps more importantly, it also proved to be the best way to strengthen the overall health and position of drug users in the Netherlands and even worldwide.

Mainline C Perron Nul 1 Maruschka Kraal
Photo Maruschka Kraal
Mainline D
Photo Leo Erken

Photos of the exhibition:

House of HIv documentatie 6672
Photo Henri Blommers

Read more about Mainline