Canada: Studies Show Safe Injection Site Has a Series of Positive Benefits
February 7, 2006
Two new studies find Vancouver's supervised-injection site for intravenous drug users (IDUs), Insite, has neither exacerbated drug use among its clients nor enticed former IDUs to relapse. Researchers were trying to assess the potential negative consequences of Insite, a pilot project launched in September of 2003 in Downtown Eastside, a poor area where IDU is frequently public.
"Certainly the results to date are very encouraging," said Dr. Thomas Kerr, a study co-author with the B.C. Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCEHA). "I think it's no secret that when this facility opened there were many people who expressed the fear that this would make drug use in the community worse."
A two-year study of Insite showed no increase in relapse among former IDUs and a great drop in binge drug use. Another BCCEHA study found fewer HIV-positive drug users were sharing needles. And among clients who always used Insite for IDU, no reported needle-sharing was documented. Insite could thus be helping to lower IDU-related HIV transmission in the city, suggested Kerr.
Insite will require federal approval to continue operating. Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper made a campaign pledge not to use federal funds for drug use. However, Kerr believes Harper will be open-minded about Insite. "He did say that he would look at the evidence," said Kerr. "From our perspective that's good news."
The binge IDU study, "Impact of a Medically Supervised Safer Injection Facility on Community Drug Use Patterns: A Before and After Study," was published in the British Medical Journal (2006;332:220-222). The study finding a decline in needle-sharing, "Factors Associated with Syringe Sharing Among Users of a Medically Supervised Safer Injecting Facility," appeared in the American Journal of Infectious Diseases (2005;1(1):50-54).
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.