Injection Drug Use, HIV/AIDS, and HCV: Brief to the House of Commons Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs

The focus of this submission to the House of Commons Special Standing Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs is on questions relating to harm reduction and on questions concerning injection drug use in Canada, specifically as they relate to HIV/AIDS.

We first discuss the extent to which Canada’s drug laws and policies contribute to the harms associated with drug use, in particular in the context of HIV/AIDS and HCV.

We then discuss existing educational programs aimed at preventing or reducing the consumption of illicit drugs in Canada, suggesting that much of the education provided is inaccurate and ineffective.

We continue by discussing proposals to

  • enhance needle exchange programs;
  • increase access to treatment options including methadone maintenance;
  • undertake clinical trials of prescribed heroin; and
  • undertake a pilot or project involving a supervised injection site.

Finally, we address the issues raised by injection drug use and HIV/AIDS and HCV in prisons.

We conclude that much more can and must be done to reduce the harms from injection drug use in Canada, particularly as they relate to HIV/AIDS and HCV.

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