Tagged: Harm Reduction RSS
LEAP’s Executive Director, Neill Franklin, visits Insite in Vancouver, where vulnerable people can meet the chemical part of their addiction in a legal, regulated environment. Witness a working model of the benefits of moving away from the criminalization of drug abuse.
Ban on Allowing States to Use HIV Prevention Money on Life-Saving Syringe Programs was Overturned in 2009 After 20-Year Struggle
Reinstatement of Ban will Lead to Thousands of New HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C Cases Annually
As part of the 2012 spending package being voted on today, Congress is restoring a ban on using federal funding for syringe exchange programs that reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases. The ban, enacted in the 1980s and repealed in 2009, was largely responsible for hundreds of thousands of Americans contracting HIV/AIDS directly or indirectly from the sharing of used syringes. Advocates warn that restoring the ban will result in thousands of Americans contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C or other infectious diseases next year alone.
An independent reviewer has dismissed concerns over a study that shows a 35-per-cent decrease in overdose deaths after the opening of Insite, North America’s only supervised injection facility.
Published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet on April 18, 2011, the study, titled Reduction in overdose mortality after the opening of North America’s first medically supervised safer injecting facility: a retrospective population-based study, was the first to assess the impact of supervised injection sites on overdose mortality.
The study was led by Thomas Kerr, an associate professor at UBC and co-director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and Julio Montaner, director of the BC-CfE and Chair of AIDS Research at UBC.
In a September 2011 letter to John Hepburn, UBC’s Vice President Research & International, a group called Drug Free Australia raised concerns over the interpretation of data in the study. Pursuant to UBC Policy 85 (Scholarly Integrity), Hepburn subsequently appointed Mark Wainberg, professor of medicine and director of the McGill University AIDS Centre, to review the matter.
Wainberg is a past-president of the International AIDS Society, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the International AIDS Society and editor of various other academic journals. He was a recipient of the Canadian Medical Association’s 2009 Medal of Honour and was named a Public Health Hero by the Pan American Health Organization for his work in antiviral treatment of HIV/AIDS.
After reviewing the submission by Drug Free Australia, the Lancet article and the authors’ response, Wainberg concluded:
“In my view, the allegations that have been made by ‘Drug Free Australia’ are without merit and are not based on scientific fact. In contrast, it is my view that the work that has been carried out by the team of Thomas Kerr et al is scientifically well-founded and has contributed to reducing the extent of mortality and morbidity in association with the existence of the safer injection facility. . . . The University of British of British Columbia should be proud of the contributions of its faculty members to the important goal of diminishing deaths due to intravenous drug abuse.”
It has been interesting to observe the fallout from the recent Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision which allows Insite, Vancouver’s largest supervised injection facility (SIF), to remain in operation.
In essence, the SCC found that the rights of the clients and staff of Insite to Insite outweigh any salutory effects arresting them for drug possession at Insite might have.
As the SCC put it:
… the effect of denying the services of Insite to the population it serves is grossly disproportionate to any benefit that Canada might derive from presenting a uniform stance on the possession of narcotics.
The court rejected the argument that Insite is a health facility under provincial rather than federal jurisdiction, but they agreed that, in this case, the Controlled Drugs and Subtances Act (CDSA) infringes on Charter rights.
Denial of health services and increased risk of death among drug users outweighs any benefit from absolute prohibition on drug possession
By Peter McKnight, Vancouver Sun
If nothing else, Friday’s unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision on the future of Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection site, reveals the federal government’s striking ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And in spectacular fashion.
The plaintiffs, after all, lost on both of their primary grounds of appeal, yet still managed to win the case. The plaintiffs’ first argument, which previously persuaded the B.C. Court of Appeal, concerned the doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity, while the second argument, which previously convinced the B.C. Supreme Court, concerned section 7 of the Charter. Yet, while these two arguments swayed lower courts, the Supreme Court of Canada wasn’t having any of either.
For Donovan Mahoney, the Insite facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was more than just a safe place to turn to for drugs.
Since 2004, he’s checked in at the clinic about 1,000 times for heroine, cocaine and morphine injections but he credits the controversial site for helping him get to treatment when he was ready and for housing him while he works on transitioning from life on the street.
He was sitting in a Maple Ridge, B.C., jail for petty crime when he called on the people he’d met at Insite for help.
“By then, I kind of burnt a lot of bridges so the people I had to turn to when I was in jail (were) these guys,” he said.
“They went all the way out to Maple Ridge and drove me out to Miracle Valley (Treatment Centre). It was my first real crack at treatment.”
On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada will announce its landmark decision on whether North America’s first supervised injection site for addicts, will be allowed to operate without a federal government legal exemption from drug laws.
Should the Supreme Court not rule in Insite’s favour, the organization would need to continue to rely on a federal government exemption to remain open.
CBC News Aug 19, 2011
Alberta health officials will no longer hand out free crack pipes to addicts in Calgary.
For three years Alberta Health Services [AHS] has been quietly handing out clean crack pipes to drug users on the street through a mobile van program called Safeworks.
TORONTO – Crack addicts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside will soon be able to pick up free, clean crack pipes from their local health authority as part of the city’s harm-reduction strategy to curb the transmission of diseases through pipe sharing.
Advocates say the new pilot project, which hits streets in October, will help health care and social workers connect with at-risk drug addicts, potentially bringing them into the health care system and exposing them to rehab options.
By J.T. Junig, MD, PhD
I’m curious what readers think about needle exchange programs, dosing rooms, and other means of harm reduction. Should we provide clean syringes and needles for drug addicts at taxpayer expense? Should the needles incorporate filters to protect people who dissolve and inject Suboxone—at the same time when many patients wait in line to get into a buprenorphine program in order to use the medication properly?
I would also appreciate comments from anyone who is making use of needle exchange or similar programs—and from any readers who are diverting Suboxone. Set up a free, anonymous e-mail account and let me know why you are doing what you are doing—instead of using the medication properly and leaving the using days behind. If you are nervous about leaving an I.P. address on the Psych Central site, send me an e-mail—to firstname.lastname@example.org .