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International News

Canada: Drug Users Back Proposed Needle Exchange in Victoria

August 31, 2009

Toward the goal of having a program operating in a fixed site by winter, an association of intravenous drug users in Victoria is throwing its support behind a proposed needle-exchange program (NEP) location it had previously rejected. In a July letter to health officials, the Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users (SOLID) had said the proposed Princess Street location was inappropriate because it was too far from downtown and in an "extremely dangerous and violent" area.

"To get a site up as soon as possible, this is what we're going to have to do," said Bruce Wallace, a SOLID advisory board member. "We're very much committed to working with VIHA [Vancouver Island Health Authority] on that site and to make sure peers are involved in the establishment and some of the service delivery."

The proposed address for the NEP has not been disclosed, but any location must meet criteria set by Victoria's Needle Exchange Advisory Committee, said Shannon Marshall, VIHA's spokesperson. "There's still a lot of work to be done before that proposal is finalized, but we are hoping this is a viable location and that we will be able to site a fixed-site needle exchange before the winter," Marshall said.

SOLID formally withdrew from the advisory committee in June, charging in a letter that NEP clients' views were not being addressed adequately. The committee members include representatives from the city, downtown residents, businesses, and VIHA, among others.

"We're realizing that there's one site proposed and after more than a year, we need to get behind the one that's chosen," said Wallace. In May 2008, the Cormorant Street exchange was shut down after operating for six years. The program was evicted after the landlord received neighbors' complaints of loitering, discarded needles, condoms, and human feces.

Back to other news for August 2009

Adapted from:
Canwest New Service
08.27.2009; Matthew Pearson

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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.
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
Canadian Needle Exchange Programs