18 Jun 2013
Hepatitis C is rarely transmitted between long-term monogamous heterosexual partners, said Dr. Norah Terrault.
By: MICHELE G. SULLIVAN,
The risk of sexually transmitting a chronic hepatitis C infection to a long-term monogamous heterosexual partner is very low, averaging just about 1% per year.
That risk level works out to a transmission rate of about one in every 190,000 sexual contacts, Dr. Norah Terrault and her colleagues reported in the April issue of Hepatology (2013;57:881-9).
The cross-sectional study also found that no one sexual practice – including anal intercourse or intercourse during menses – significantly increased the risk of transmission, wrote Dr. Terrault of the University of California, San Francisco. The findings can be used to provide "unambiguous and reassuring counseling messages," she and her coinvestigators noted.
The study included 500 subjects with chronic HCV infections, and their sexual partners. All couples reported longtime, monogamous relationships (median duration, 15 years); however, the relationship duration varied widely, spanning 2-52 years.
Each of the partners was interviewed separately about their sexual contacts and practices. At the time of interview, the index subjects were a median of 49 years old and the partners, a median of 48 years.
11 Jun 2013
By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun columnist June 10, 2013
On April Fool’s Day next year, Ottawa is officially quitting the pot business and simultaneously uprooting thousands of home-grow operations across the country.
After two years of consultation and review, the federal government announced an overhaul of the medical marijuana program on Monday.
The details will be published June 19, but Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is banning the indoor pot gardens that are the bane of police departments, fire marshals and municipalities.
A marijuana mail-order system for the ailing will be established.
“While the courts have said that there must be reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana for medical purposes, we believe that this must be done in a controlled fashion in order to protect public safety,” Aglukkaq said.
She maintained that the 12-year-old medical marijuana program had grown exponentially — from under 500 persons to more than 30,000.
The unintended consequences of having so many Canadians exempt from the criminal law and allowing thousands to grow marijuana in their homes have proven too difficult to manage, Aglukkaq said
Under the new rules, municipal zoning laws must be respected, and marijuana may only be grown by strictly regulated licensed producers who will sell their product by mail.
Her sympathies clearly lay with civic authorities rather than the sick — Aglukkaq made the announcement from an Ottawa fire hall, not a health setting.
11 Jun 2013
The Globe and Mail; Published Thursday, Jun. 06 2013
The Canadian government has the right to set the ground rules for any medical clinics that supervise the injection of illegal drugs. But in doing so, it must not allow sick people to die on specious grounds related to the “war on drugs,” the Supreme Court says.
With a new law introduced Thursday – the opportunistically-named Respect for Communities Act – Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq leaves one to wonder whether she could give a fair-minded consideration to any proposal for such a clinic.
Ms. Aglukkaq helpfully includes, in her backgrounder on the bill, a link to the Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling that blasted her government for its mindless rejection of Insite, the country’s first such clinic, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. But her bill makes one question whether the government has truly accepted the court’s ruling.
28 May 2013
Program trains users how to recognize symptoms of overdose, administer reversal drug
Posted: May 27, 2013
The head of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy calls the number of overdose deaths in the city “staggering” — one reason the city has announced a new overdose prevention program.
The program trains users how to spot the symptoms of an overdose and to administer Naloxone, a drug given by injection that reverses opioid overdoses.
Cynthia Olsen said it's an important step in reducing the drug-related deaths, which she said outnumber deaths from motor vehicle collisions in the northwest.
“So it's pretty significant and — when we can put this medication in the hands of people who are often first to see it — that can make a big impact on those numbers,” she said at a news conference on Monday.
Olsen said training — and the Naloxone kits — will be provided by staff at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
24 May 2013
By PETER O'NEIL, Postmedia News May 23, 2013
OTTAWA — The Harper government has dismissed a proposal calling on it to drop its get-tough policy on drugs in favour of a softer approach that would include decriminalization of all drugs.
That proposal was delivered Thursday in a report by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, a team of academic experts based at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.
“Our government has no intention of legalizing or decriminalizing any harmful, illicit substance — including heroin or crystal meth,” said Sean Phelan, a spokesman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
The coalition of academics said Ottawa’s approach — more funding for law enforcement, increased penalties for drug crime, and withdrawing support for “harm-reduction” initiatives like Vancouver’s supervised injection site — is counterproductive.
The coalition’s call to instead legalize and regulate the marijuana trade, and decriminalize all other drugs, got a cool reception from both government and opposition MPs.
20 May 2013
By DAN FROSCH
GALLUP, N.M. — A surge in H.I.V. infections on the Navajo reservation here has doctors and public health workers increasingly alarmed that the virus that causes AIDS has resurfaced with renewed intensity in this impoverished region.
A report released last month by the federal Indian Health Service found that there were 47 new diagnoses of human immunodeficiency virus on the reservation in 2012, up 20 percent from 2011. Since 1999, new H.I.V. cases among Navajo are up nearly fivefold, the report found. The tally of new cases from last year represents the highest annual number recorded among the tribe by the health agency.
“I’m scared to death,” said Dr. Jonathan Iralu, an infectious disease specialist who runs an H.I.V. clinic in this dusty town where old trading posts and ramshackle motels line the main drag on the edge of Navajo land, not far from the Arizona border. “The numbers show there is a dangerous rise, and the time to act is now, before it’s too late.”
Dr. Iralu, who compiled the report, remembers hearing the stories from former colleagues about the late 1980s when AIDS first struck the reservation. Navajo men would walk into the Indian Medical Center in Gallup sick with a fever or a cough, and a few days later they would be dead.
In the period after that, Dr. Iralu, a Harvard-educated doctor who moved here from Boston, treated a small number of Navajo men with H.I.V. each year and lost nearly a third of them.
16 May 2013
A program co-led by St. Michael's Hospital could be the next widely used model to treat patients who are frequent users of the health care system and have severe addictions, often complicated by homelessness and mental health problems.
The Toronto Community Addiction Team (TCAT) was developed to improve health and social outcomes for people with addictions who are frequent users of health services by providing one-on-one intensive case management from a harm reduction approach. The team works with clients to provide services such as individual therapy, finding a physician, securing housing, managing budgets and care plans that are based on clients' strengths and choices.
"Developing interventions to engage these frequent users in community-based care and alleviate pressures from costly hospital-based services - which are not designed to meet their needs - is a system priority," said Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, psychiatrist-in-chief at St. Michael's Hospital and evaluation lead for the program. "The TCAT is a great example of a client-centred approach that works to do exactly this. It shows promise in reducing re-admission rates which can ultimately save money for the health care system."
01 May 2013
Vaccine did not prevent HIV infection: non-significant increase in infections in vaccine recipients
Gus Cairns, Published: 26 April 2013
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has announced that it is discontinuing the HVTN 505 HIV vaccine trial. This trial, which started in July 2009, has involved 2504 gay and transgender volunteers in 19 US cities. Since the successful conclusion of the RV144 vaccine trial in September 2009, HVTN 505, as a randomised, placebo-controlled phase IIb trial, has been the only ongoing HIV vaccine trial large enough to be a true test of vaccine efficacy.
NIAID stopped administering injections when the trial‘s independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) found during a scheduled interim review that there was no sign that the vaccine regimen was preventing HIV infection, nor any sign that it was reducing viral load among vaccine recipients who became infected with HIV.
The DSMB found that there were actually more HIV infections in volunteers receiving vaccine than placebo, but it is important to emphasise that this difference was not statistically significant and may have been due to chance. Statistically speaking, the vaccine had zero efficacy.
29 Apr 2013
By Shaamini Yogaretnam, Ottawa CitizenApril 28, 2013
OTTAWA — An Ottawa group of volunteers walked the ByWard Market Saturday seeking neighbourhood reaction to a potential safe drug consumption site on their doorstep.
The Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites volunteers went door-to-door in the Market canvassing residents on how they feel about drug use and, if asked to do so publicly, whether they would support a harm reduction site in the neighbourhood. That site could be used to provide a safer space for users to inhale or inject drugs.
Volunteers Kayleigh Fisher, 21, and Lisa Wright, 27, walked up and down York Street hoping to speak to area residents but only had six people open their doors.
Having lived in Ottawa for three years, Fisher said she visits the Market between one and two times a week and is very familiar with supervised injection site Insite in Vancouver, which has operated for nearly a decade.
“I definitely recognized that there was a need for one in Ottawa,” Fisher said.