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International News

Canada: Safe Injection Sites Will Draw Key Users -- Study

January 8, 2003

Vancouver drug users who inject in public, have recently overdosed, who are sex workers, or who inject heroin frequently are among those most likely to use a supervised injection facility (SIF), according to a new study. This means that if a site opens locally -- as Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell has said he hopes will happen by March 1 -- those most likely to use it will be the people for whom it is primarily intended, according to local researcher and study author Evan Wood of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul's Hospital. The report, "The Potential Public Health and Community Impacts of Safer Injecting Facilities: Evidence from a Cohort of Injection Drug Users," was published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (2003;32(1):2-8).

Wood also observed that criticisms made of the supervised injection sites -- that cocaine users would not utilize them or that they will act as magnets for users from other regions -- are disproved by this and other studies. Wood discounted the "magnet" claim, "given that previous studies have shown that intravenous drug users are generally unwilling to travel even short distances to use SIF and other medical services."

The addicts surveyed are part of a long-term study of Vancouver drug users called the Vancouver Injection Drug User Study, a sample group that has provided local researchers with a significant amount of information about drug-using behavior. Those surveyed included people who inject heroin, cocaine, and speedballs -- a mix of heroin and cocaine.

The survey, conducted by several Center for Excellence researchers, found 215 of 587 addicts (37 percent) said they would use SIFs; 288 said they would not; and 84 said they were not sure.

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Since the long-term study began in 1996, 190 of the participants have died: 41 of HIV/AIDS, and 51 of drug overdoses. These are two drug-use effects that international health researchers say are reduced when SIFs are put in place. "In settings where SIFs have been implemented, community residents report preferring the presence of SIFs to the public drug scenes that preceded them," the study said.

Back to other CDC news for January 8, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Vancouver Sun
01.04.03; Frances Bula



  
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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.
 

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