Canada: Needle Exchange Van to Service Maple Ridge
August 10, 2011
In June, a needle-exchange van began visiting Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, and Coquitlam, building a client base in each of the cities. Staffed and run by the Purpose Society of New Westminster, the mobile service is expanding to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
The van offers injection drug users (IDUs) and other at-risk populations health and hygiene supplies, including condoms, syringes, crack-pipe mouthpieces, alcohol swabs, and sterile water to prevent transmission of blood-borne diseases.
Some IDUs will share syringes if a clean one is not available, and sharing needles is a major source of infections, said Darryl Lucas, executive director of Alouette Addictions in Maple Ridge. Its own needle-distribution program, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., has grown from providing a few hundred syringes each quarter to about 5,000. Most clients are referred to Alouette's program by word-of-mouth.
"We are quite busy when you think about the small Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows community," Lucas said. The program is an initial point of contact for IDUs to access health services, with clients offered referrals to methadone clinics, detox and rehabilitation programs, and counseling.
Another syringe distribution effort funded through British Columbia Housing has about 170 clients in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, said Rodney Baker, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association's Simon Fraser branch.
Maple Ridge News
08.05.2011; Monisha Martins, Todd Coyne, Tri-City News
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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