media release

Injection sites benefit Dr. Peter Centre clients

March 13, 2014
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Contact:
Kevin Hollett (to arrange interview with Will Small), BC-CfE communications, 604.682.2344 ext. 66536, 778.848.3420 (cell)
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035, cthorbes@sfu.ca

Photo on Flickr: http://at.sfu.ca/KcOGdM

A Simon Fraser University health scientist is the senior author on a new study that finds on-site supervised injection services are benefiting clients living with HIV/AIDS at the Dr. Peter Centre (DPC) Residence in Vancouver.

Researchers at the BC Centre for Excellence (BC-CfE) in HIV/AIDS carried out the study.

Just published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, the study found that integration of harm reduction approaches, including supervised injection service, into the DPC Residence’s programs leads to several benefits.

They included improved access to palliative and supportive care services, and increased adherence to HIV/AIDS treatment, leading to gains in individual health and life expectancy.

Residents also reported that these harm reduction approaches reduce drug-related harms, such as injection-related infections, and overdose.

The DPC Residence is a 24-suite palliative and supportive care program offering 24-hour specialized nursing care within the DPC to HIV/AIDS clients, many of whom are drug addicted.

The study’s senior author Will Small, an SFU health sciences assistant professor and BC-CfE researcher, says: “Drug users encounter significant barriers to accessing in-patient health care services. These findings demonstrate harm reduction approaches can not only reduce drug-related harms, but also improve access and adherence to life-saving treatment and care and encourage drug withdrawal. We should explore introducing harm reduction approaches within other similar settings.”

The expansion of HIV testing and provision of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) under the BC-CfE-pioneered Treatment as Prevention strategy has led to significant gains in life expectancy among people living with HIV.

However, evidence shows that injection drug users living with HIV don’t adhere well to HIV treatment programs. While this population subsequently experiences a high burden of illness, it often can’t access needed palliative and supportive care services due to anti-drug policies and stigma associated with drug use.

This qualitative study’s investigators interviewed 13 DPC residents over a 10-month period to assess the impact of the supervised injection service on client access to, and involvement in, care.

As many as 63 per cent of the DPC Residence’s supervised injection clients have received addiction counselling and one-third have been referred to withdrawal management or long-term treatment programs.

In February, the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation and Vancouver Coastal Health submitted an application to Health Canada on behalf of the Dr. Peter Centre. It seeks an exemption from federal drug laws to allow the centre to continue providing supervised injection services for its clients admitted for care.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.

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Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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