28 Nov 2013
BY: Sarah Liss, Wed Nov 27, 2013
One in 120 adult Torontonians are living with HIV. Despite advances in treatment, the effects of this disease are still enormous. So where has all the outrage gone?
By the time he was a teenager, Christian Hui was an expert at putting condoms on bananas. A shy, socially awkward kid with an accent that betrayed his childhood in Hong Kong and fey mannerisms that betrayed his latent queerness, Hui, who moved to Seattle when he was 12, felt like a loner. Despite that sense of alienation, he became a peer sex educator in his teens, regularly talking to other kids about sex. “It’s kind of ironic,” he says now, with a wry smile. “I’d go around to classrooms talking about how to put on a condom when I didn’t even know how to put one on myself.”
Now 35, Hui (pictured below) was just a toddler in 1981, when the first cluster of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia—the respiratory condition that was one of the early telltale symptoms of AIDS—was reported in Los Angeles. (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was isolated by researchers in 1983 and formally named three years later.) Like many of us, Hui is part of a generation—post-GenX, pre-Millennial—that grew up inundated with information about the terrifying spectre that was AIDS. Hui’s first introduction came via television. “It was back in Hong Kong, probably around the mid-’80s,” he says. “If you get AIDS, you’ll die. That was the fear message. That really stayed with me.”
22 Nov 2013
• Although there have been several reports of the presence of desomorphine (“krocodil” or “crocodile”) in Canada and the United States since September, 2013, as of November 21, 2013, there have been no confirmed reports of desomorphine in Canada or the United States.
• Unconfirmed reports might have resulted from the observation of severe wounds at injection sites among drug users. These wounds can resemble those associated with desomorphine. This type of tissue damage can be owing to adulterants in injected drugs or illnesses such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterial infection.
13 Nov 2013
ANDREA WOO, VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail, Published Wednesday, Nov. 13 2013
Five people severely addicted to heroin are launching a constitutional challenge to the federal government’s ban on the prescription version of the drug, The Globe and Mail has learned.
Providence Health Care, a Vancouver care provider, is also participating in the case. It is expected to announce the challenge at a news conference with the Pivot Legal Society, which is representing the addicts, on Wednesday morning.
Senior representatives of both organizations will accompany addictions physicians, researchers and some of the addicts, according to a news release issued on Tuesday.
Health Canada’s special access program (SAP) had recently approved applications from B.C. doctors to give diacetylmorphine (heroin) treatment to about 20 patients who were completing their participation in a Vancouver-based clinical trial – the first time it had ever done so.
18 Oct 2013
Produced in collaboration with hivandhepatitis.com
Published: 18 October 2013
The advent of direct-acting antiviral agents can rightly be described as a revolution in treatment for chronic hepatitis C, but potential challenges remain – including drug interactions and cost, Heinrich Wedemeyer told participants during a Thursday plenary session at the 14th European AIDS Conference in Brussels.
Chronic hepatitis C has traditionally been difficult to treat. Until recently the standard of care was dual therapy with pegylated interferon (Pegasys or PegIntron) and ribavirin, which lasts up to a year – perhaps even longer for people with HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection, has notorious side-effects, and offers only a modest cure rate, especially for people with unfavourable factors such as advanced liver fibrosis.
The development of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) has been described by many as revolutionary. Looking at the dictionary definition of 'revolution', Wedemeyer, from Hannover Medical School, Germany, agreed that the new therapies offer "a radical and profound change in relationships and technological conditions", "a fundamental departure from any historic pattern" and "a challenge to the established order".
07 Oct 2013
Mike Howell / Vancouver Courier
October 3, 2013
The mass distribution of 65,000 crack cocaine smoking kits in the Downtown Eastside did not trigger more drug activity but reduced burns to crack smokers and decreased the reliance on used smoking equipment.
That’s the conclusion of Vancouver Coastal Health chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly as she examined the results of a 13-month evaluation of 4,213 crack smokers.
“Their behaviour indicates that they’re involved in less high-risk behaviour and that might reduce some of their infection risks associated with crack smoking,” said Daly of the health agency’s evaluation released last week.
The project cost $118,000, with $43,000 spent on supplies, $35,000 on “peer support and education” and $25,000 on putting the kits together. An additional $15,000 was spent on the evaluation, which Vancouver Coastal Health did with the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C.
The evaluation period ran from December 2011 to November 2012 and had various organizations, including community health clinics and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, assemble and distribute 65,299 sterile kits that included glass stems, pipe screens, mouthpieces and alcohol swabs.
01 Oct 2013
Harper government's new system puts price of cannabis out of reach for most patients and stymies research
BY ELIZABETH NICKSON, VANCOUVER SUN OCTOBER 1, 2013
The federal government announced this week the first commercial grower of medical marijuana, a company in Saskatoon, which has been providing seeds and product to patients for a few years.
Along with the award came new rules. All cannabis is to be irradiated, powdered and sold for between $9 and $12 a gram. No one can possess more than 150 grams at a time. No one can grow their own. Compassion clubs are out of business. This is supposed to standardize the method of delivery, get the gangs out and stop growing in private homes.
The Harper government, with its jejune attitude toward anything the left embraces, hereby demonstrates hamhanded, tone-deaf governance. For more than a decade, 30,000 medical marijuana patients have been acquiring their drug either by growing their own, or through compassion clubs, which maintain quality control.
23 Sep 2013
By Micki Cowan, Special to the Ottawa CitizenSeptember 22, 2013
OTTAWA — Ottawa may become home to Canada’s second safe injection site as early as next year if Health Canada approves a local group’s application.
The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre is working with partners on a proposal to exempt them from Canada’s drug laws and allow them to open a supervised drug injection facility.
The group, along with the Drug User Advocacy League and doctors from the Ottawa Hospital, hope to complete the application by December. The group expects an answer from Health Canada as early as six months after applying.
Rob Boyd, a director at the Sandy Hill centre, said Ottawa has the highest HIV rates of any Ontario municipality and getting the service is vital.
“We have a large and unstable number of people who have complex addiction issues who are having unsupervised consumption in the community,” said Boyd.
18 Sep 2013
Estimated 600,000 Canadians had unmet mental health care need, survey indicates
CBC News Posted: Sep 18, 2013
About one in six Canadians said they needed mental health care last year, Statistics Canada reports.
The findings are included in the agency's 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey on mental health that was released Wednesday. The survey results were based on a national sample of more than 25,000 people 15 or older in the 10 provinces.
The need for mental health care was mainly for counselling, the survey suggests. Other mental health care needs were for medication and information.
"An estimated 600,000 had a perceived unmet mental health care need, and more than 1,000,000 had a partially met need," the report's authors said, extrapolating from the sample.
About 17 per cent of the population 15 or older reported having had an mental health care need in the past 12 months, the agency found. Of these:
- 67 per cent said their needs were met.
- 21 per cent said their needs were partially met.
- 12 per cent said their needs were unmet.
12 Sep 2013
Supervised injection site opened as three-year experiment
Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, Sept 21, 2013
The procedure is hard to watch: A 52-year-old woman takes a syringe laced with heroin and carefully inserts it into a vein in the side of her neck.
As she pulls out the syringe, she checks herself in the mirror and notices a trickle of blood coming from the tiny wound. She wipes it with a sterile pad and she’s done.
Gail Hunt is high.
She will complete the same procedure at least twice more on this day. And she will do it in the Insite supervised injection site, where she’s been a client for nine years.
“It’s safe and if anything happens to me, there’s trained professionals here who can help,” she said, sitting in an injection booth last Thursday at the facility on East Hastings. “I’ve watched people go down in front of me — overdose — and the staff are there right away. We haven’t lost one person in here.”
Hunt, who began using heroin to mask the pain from breast cancer, is a regular at Insite, which marks its 10th anniversary of operation this month.
The facility’s longevity is a remarkable feat considering it originally opened Sept. 21, 2003 as a three-year scientific experiment.
Ten years later, and after more than two million injections without an overdose death, Insite continues to be the only legal site of its kind in North America.
But keeping the facility’s doors open has been a battle.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government want Insite closed and fought unsuccessfully in the courts to shut down the service.
28 Aug 2013
Maria Cheng, The Associated Press, August 28, 2013
LONDON -- Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug used worldwide, but addictions to popular painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin and codeine kill the most people, according to the first-ever global survey of illicit drug abuse.
In addition to cannabis and opioid painkillers, scientists analyzed abuse of cocaine and amphetamines in 2010, largely based on previous studies. Ecstasy and hallucinogens weren't included, because there weren't enough data.
The researchers found that for all the drugs studied, men in their 20s had the highest rates of abuse. The worst-hit countries were Australia, Britain, Russia and the U.S. The study was published online Thursday in the journal, Lancet.