Five ideas to improve drug user health in Canada


Hepatitis C prevention, testing and treatment exists within the larger context of drug user health. This broader approach to hepatitis C must address the intersections of harm reduction, overdose prevention, the social determinants of health, and human rights.

How can we better integrate these multiple perspectives to our work? To find out, we sat down to hear ideas from the world’s leading voices in hepatitis C at the 8th International Conference on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU 2019) in Montreal.

Decriminalize drug use to improve access to healthcare services

Jude Byrne, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (Australia)

Jude Byrne argues that the criminalization of drugs creates stigma that blocks individuals from accessing health and social services and allows governments to ignore them, despite an epidemic of deaths.

Address basic human needs as the first step to treating hepatitis C

Jennifer Broad, Toronto Community Hep C Program (Canada)

Jennifer Broad explains that for many people, hepatitis C is a low priority. By addressing more pressing needs such as overdose risk and housing, this can open the door to treating hepatitis C in the future.

Provide a legal and safe supply of drugs to prevent overdose deaths.

Mark Tyndall, University of British Columbia (Canada)

Mark Tyndall argues that as long as a poisoned drug supply exists in our communities, we cannot stop an unrelenting overdose epidemic. A legal and safe supply for people who use opiates is the solution that’s needed.

Increase the availability of opioid agonist therapy and needle and syringe programs

Jason Grebely, International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users (Australia)

Jason Grebely explains how prevention is a major pillar for hepatitis C elimination and how opioid agonist therapy and needle-syringe distribution programs can help us get there.

Adopt a “person-centred approach” to reduce barriers to healthcare.

Martin Pagé, Dopamine (Canada)

Martin Pagé describes how Dopamine in Montreal is creating a low-barrier approach that is focused on making people feel welcome and empowered to improve their overall well-being.

To view English subtitles, click the ‘CC’ button.


Christopher Hoy is a knowledge specialist in hepatitis C community health programming at CATIE.


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