Canada: Public Open to Drug Injection Site
April 15, 2011
At an HIV conference today in Toronto, researchers are presenting results of a feasibility study on a supervised drug consumption site in Toronto or Ottawa.
Insite in Vancouver is currently the only such site in Canada. Research shows that providing a safe place to inject or smoke drugs, where staff can provide sterile equipment, reduces the transmission of HIV and hepatitis B and C. Facilities such as Insite also reduce overdoses and substance abuse, studies indicate.
But the issue is controversial. Since its 2003 opening, critics have questioned Insite's usefulness. The federal government is currently trying to shutter the facility. Canada's Supreme Court will consider that case in May.
Toronto requested the feasibility study in 2005, sparking heated exchanges at City Council and in surrounding communities. A final report is anticipated this summer.
Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, study co-leader and scientist at the Center for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael's Hospital, said the team found people were more likely to support a site whose objective is reducing HIV, hepatitis, and overdoses.
A theme emerged from the focus groups held with community stakeholders: Public drug use. "That is a very strong unifying point of agreement, that interventions to get drug use off the street are beneficial," said Bayoumi. "People differ about whether supervised sites will do that, but many people believe that they will and that is the basis for their support."
People want scientific evidence warranting the need for a supervised site in Toronto or Ottawa. They also want the site to be part of a comprehensive approach to the problem of drug use, the study showed.
"There were very few people who say they would never support a site," noted Bayoumi.
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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