Canada: Safe Injection Site Stays Open, For Now
September 5, 2006
Citing the need for more research, Health Canada announced Friday it has postponed a final decision on Vancouver's safe injection site. Insite, a pilot project that permits addicts to inject their own drugs under the supervision of a nurse to prevent overdoses, was slated to close September 12 if the Conservative government did not renew a three-year exemption under Canada's drug laws.
In a release posted to the Health Canada Web site after the close of business, Health Minister Tony Clement said, "We believe the best form of harm reduction is to help addicts break the cycle of dependency. We also need better education and prevention to ensure Canadians don't get addicted to drugs in the first place." Clement said studies will look into how supervised injection impacts crime, prevention, and treatment. Insite will stay open while the studies are conducted. A final decision will be made on its application on December 31, 2007, said Clement.
Heather Hay, who directs HIV/AIDS and addiction services at the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, was pleased to hear about the extension for the exemption. "We've been confident there would be some level of extension and that there would be business as usual at Insite."
But Dr. Julio Montaner, clinical director of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, expressed some concern over the news release's language. He noted the questions it raised: Do safe injection sites contribute to decreasing drug use and fighting addiction? "That's a broad question. Injection sites are part of a broad strategy to deal with the problem of drug addiction," he said. "The injection site is a strategy we are utilizing to access and entrench drug addicts who are not accessing the health care system." "This is simply one more of a multi-pronged approach on dealing with the addiction problems."
09.02.2006; Canadian Press
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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.