Supervised Drug-Injection Facility in Vancouver, Canada, To Remain Open Until December 2007
A supervised drug-injection facility in Vancouver, Canada, will remain open until December 2007 after it received a reprieve on Friday from Health Minister Tony Clement, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Fong, Globe and Mail, 9/2). The site, which is funded by the provincial government and has received research funding from the Canadian government, was scheduled to close Sept. 12 if the government decided not to renew a three-year exemption under the country's drug laws (CP/Toronto Star, 9/1). The government-funded facility, which opened in September 2003, includes 12 booths for injection drug users to inject drugs as well as a "chill-out" room, in which users can be monitored for overdoses. At the site, drug users receive clean needles, tourniquets, water and cotton balls, and a nurse supervises drug users' activities and provides them with referrals to detox centers and homeless shelters. Vancouver has one of the highest illegal drug-use rates in North America, with as many as 12,000 IDUs in the Vancouver metropolitan area, 30% of whom are HIV-positive and 90% of whom have hepatitis C (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/13/03). Clement on Friday said he could not approve a request to extend the program for another three and a half years (Globe and Mail, 9/2). He called for more research into how to encourage IDUs to cease their drug use. Heather Hay -- director of addiction services, HIV and AIDS services at Vancouver Coastal Health -- said she was "pleased" about the news (CP/Toronto Star, 9/1). Julio Montaner, director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and president-elect of the International AIDS Society, also welcomed the announcement but expressed concern about the government's need to conduct more research (Globe and Mail, 9/2). A final decision on the facility will be made by Dec. 31, 2007 (CP/Toronto Star, 9/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.