Supervised injection in Toronto will improve the health of people who inject drugs

By Drs. Ahmed Bayoumi and Carol Strike

bayoumi-330-220 carol-strike

Over the past year, advocates or elected officials in Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria, Baltimore, New York City, Ithaca (NY), Seattle, San Francisco, Glasgow and four cities in Ireland have called  for the implementation of supervised injection services. More recently, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown recommended that the Board of Health start a community consultation process toward establishing supervised injection services within three existing facilities in the city. The Board voted unanimously in favour.  As the lead investigators of the TOSCA study  (the Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Assessment), we support Dr. McKeown’s proposal and look forward to the opening of these services in Toronto.

We’re all mad here: It’s time to demand affordable Hep C treatment!

PatriciaBacon1By Patricia Bacon

My daughter has a smartphone cover that says: “We’re all mad here”. It’s from Alice in Wonderland. I like it; and when it comes to hepatitis C treatment and pricing, it’s quite on point.

In 2014, Canada and the rest of the world turned a miraculous corner – a cure for viral hepatitis C was on the market. Wonderful and amazing. Why? Well, viral hepatitis C is the only chronic viral infection that now has a cure – that is, a cure for virtually everyone, with a cure rate of 95 per cent.

5 ways that PrEP highlights gender inequities in HIV

San PattenBy San Patten

One of the most memorable moments in my 20 years working in the HIV field happened in a standing-room-only meeting hall in Vienna at the International AIDS Conference in 2010. This was the moment that the clinical trial CAPRISA 004 announced proof-of-concept for prevention of HIV among women using a vaginal microbicide (1% tenofivir gel). The entire room broke out in a standing ovation and tears of joy. Finally! A prevention tool that could allow a woman to protect herself in sexual encounters, regardless of the desires and wishes of her sexual partner. Five years later, microbicides have not yet come to fruition. But pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) holds the same great promise.

Health Canada’s statement on the status of naloxone is a welcome drug policy paradigm shift

By Dr. Lynne LeonardLynne Leonard pic

The administration of naloxone, a chemical compound that effectively temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, is recommended by the World Health Organization to be used in the case of an opioid overdose. Naloxone is currently available in Canada only in an injectable form and by prescription only; it can only be administered to the person named on the prescription, not to a third party. With the objective of making naloxone more widely available in Canada to address the growing number of opioid overdoses, and consequent on a review of health and safety data, Health Canada has suggested an amendment to the prescription drug list to allow non-prescription use of naloxone specifically for emergency use for opioid overdose outside hospital settings. A public consultation on the proposal has been initiated and if the change in status continues to be supported by consultation evidence, the change will be finalized.

Queer women are ignored in HIV research: this is a problem and here is why it matters

By Carmen Logiecarmen logie

Lesbian, bisexual and queer women are rarely included in HIV research. Women who have sex with women, and their HIV infection rates, are not captured anywhere because women cannot report having a woman as a sexual partner in Canada’s HIV statistics. The current record only allows women to report HIV exposure either through injection drug use or heterosexual sex. This contributes to the erasure of women’s sexual and gender diversity and fluidity in HIV research. Queer* women are ignored in HIV research: this is a problem and here is why it matters.