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6th National Harm Reduction Conference

November 9-12, Oakland, CA, "Drug User Health: The Politics and the Personal," 6th National Harm Reduction Conference. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition, for further information visit http://www.harmreduction.org/6national/ or contact Paula Santiago at santiago@harmreduction.org.
Date: 
Thu, 11/09/2006 - 9:00am - Sun, 11/12/2006 - 5:00pm
Location: 
Oakland, CA
United States

Harm Reduction: San Diego Reinstates Needle Exchange Program

The city of San Diego Wednesday rejoined the ranks of cities offering needle exchange programs as a public health service when the city council voted to reinstate the program. It had been dropped because of waning political support a year ago, but Wednesday it was re-approved on a 6-1 vote.

Needle exchanges were first approved in November 2001 and the program was launched in July 2002. It operated out of two centers, one in the East Village and one in North Park. During its operation, the program collected nearly 350,000 dirty needles and distributed more than 285,000 clean ones.

But until state law changed this year, cities or counties had to declare a public health emergency every two weeks to keep the programs operating. A year ago this month, the two-week vote failed, and the program was shut down.

Needle exchange programs are widely recognized to reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C by reducing the sharing of syringes. But some opponents accuse them of promoting or facilitating drug use.

Luana Stines, a pastor who addressed the council was one of them. "They don't need another needle," she said. "They need direction." Better to spend the money on faith-based counseling, she suggested.

No taxpayer funds are being used in San Diego. Alliance Healthcare, a local nonprofit that ran the program, has pledged $386,400 to fund it for the next two years.

Police: Maryland Has Tainted Heroin

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0706/345220.html

Vancouver's Safe Injection Site Gets Support of Australian Legislators

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Canada Press
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=86648624-fa0f-4fa0-aeca-0a04f56c529d&k=68707

Greens Call for Heroin Import Trial (Australia)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,19815713-5005961,00.html

Vancouver MP Libby Davies Urges Campaign to Save Safe Injection Site

INSITE, Vancouver's Downtown Eastside safe injection site, is in danger of being shut down after September 12 if the new conservative health minister doesn't reapprove it. Here's the email MP Libby Davies sent out today: Dear friends, I am writing you today regarding the fate of INSITE, North America’s first supervised safe injection facility. As you may know, this program started as a three-year study in September of 2003, and the results have been incredibly impressive. INSITE has reduced public injections, reduced the transmission of blood-borne infections like HIV and Hepatitis C, and reduced the number of injection-related infections. Most significantly, however, is that of 453 overdoses at INSITE, not one has resulted in a fatality. This is strong evidence of the success that this project has had in reducing the harm to drug-users. However, despite its successes, INSITE is at risk of closing down. The facility exists because of an exemption under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. If Health Minister Tony Clement does not renew this exemption, this facility will close down as of September 12th of this year. Therefore, I am urging you to take action. If you believe that INSITE should continue, then please let Tony Clement know! His email address is: Minister_Ministre@hc-sc.gc.ca Please send me a copy of your email to the Health Minister if you decide to write, and also send a copy to info@communityinsite.ca. I have included some recent letters that I have written to Prime Minister Harper and Health Minister Clement below for reference. You can also get additional information about the facility at “Insite for Community Safety” (www.communityinsite.ca). If we can speak with one voice, we can let this government know how people really feel about this important program. I thank you for your continued support! Yours sincerely, Libby Davies MP, Vancouver East
Location: 
United States

Australian MP Says Raves Safer Than Hotel Bars, Urges Pill Testing Programs

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.theadvertiser.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,19698296%255E910,00.html

Canada: In Harm Reduction Bid, Vancouver Police to Stay Away From Overdose Calls

In a bid to reduce drug overdose deaths, police in Vancouver will no longer show up along with paramedics at drug overdose calls. That has already been unofficial practice for the past two years, but at a June 14 meeting, the Vancouver Police board voted to make it part of the department's official policy.

Citing Australian research that showed a police presence actually increased the likelihood of overdose deaths, Vancouver police suggested that if drug users do not fear arrest, they will be less reluctant to contact authorities in the event of an overdose, and in December 2003 began staying away from ODs. After a series of consultation with community groups, including the drug user group Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), the practice became established, if informal, policy by the end of the following year.

"Research presented at a Heroin Overdose Prevention Conference in Seattle in 2000 revealed that despite the fact that half of overdose cases are witnessed by another person, the greatest barrier in obtaining emergency medical help was the fear that police would attend and lay charges for drug use," wrote Vancouver Police Inspector Ken Frail at the time. "Rather than face police intervention, many witnesses to a drug overdose would respond in an inappropriate way. Sometimes a victim would be dropped in a public place hoping they would be found, sometimes an incomplete phone call would be made and the caller would leave before medical help arrived. Sometimes the overdose victim would be abandoned," he noted.

"Vancouver Police recognize that drug overdose cases are primarily medical emergencies requiring rapid response," Frail explained. "The new policy tends to restrict police attendance at overdose calls except in cases where public safety requires police attendance. The police role at a drug overdose call is clarified as 'assisting with life saving measures and public safety.'"

It worked for Vancouver in 2004 and 2005, and now the Police Board has made it official policy. It is a harm reduction measure American cities would do well to consider emulating.

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