Despite the fact that harm reduction services and ideas are always started by people who use drugs, they are not always included in the design and delivery of these programs as they become more formalized, especially in healthcare settings and for medical issues related to drug use.
Canada’s overdose crisis continues to grow, claiming nearly 4,000 lives last year alone. In the midst of this emergency, more than 1,000 frontline workers converged in Edmonton last month for Stimulus 2018, Canada’s first national conference on harm reduction and drug policy.
“The time for excuses is over. It’s very, very clear that the risk is zero. If you are on suppressive antiretroviral treatment you are sexually non-infectious” — Dr. Alison Rodger of University College London, lead author of PARTNER 2, presenting at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, July 25, 2018.
It’s difficult to overstate the power of this message for people with HIV, such as myself, because it changes what it means to live with HIV. It opens up social, sexual and reproductive choices we and our sexual partners never thought would be possible. It encourages those of us with HIV to start and stay on treatment to keep both us and our sexual partners healthy. It’s an opportunity to transform how we see ourselves, how we’re perceived by our families and friends, by our current or potential sexual partners, and by people in general.
The past few years have been a rollercoaster for those of us most impacted by HIV. The use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by people who are HIV-negative has gone from being discredited and shamed to become one of the keystones of a renewed and revitalized push to “end the HIV epidemic”. The other life-changing piece of research is the landmark PARTNER study that showed us, once and for all, that the sexual transmission of HIV does not occur in people whose viral loads are undetectable. The joyous global uptake of the U=U message has been nothing short of inspirational.
We recently completed a study focused on how to improve SIS-police relationships. For this research, we interviewed SIS managers, program coordinators and police liaisons in Europe, Australia, Quebec and British Columbia, reviewed international literature on harm reduction training for police, and conducted focus group consultations with Toronto-based SIS/harm reduction workers, people who inject drugs and police. Our multi-stakeholder team (including researchers, SIS managers, harm reduction workers and student trainees) used the information we gathered to identify factors that may help to improve relationships between SIS and local police. Here are our five recommendations:
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.