Backgrounder: Correctional Service Canada Prison Needle Exchange Program


CSC’s Prison Needle Exchange Program (PNEP) will give inmates access to clean needles and will take into account the inmate’s confidentiality and health, while ensuring the safety and security of the institution. This program will help address needle sharing among people who inject drugs and facilitate referral to health care services.

Other CSC harm reduction measures

CSC has an integrated approach to the prevention and control of blood-borne and sexually transmitted infections that is compliant with the World Health Organization. These measures include:

  • screening and testing at reception and ongoing throughout incarceration
  • education on admission regarding infectious diseases and how to prevent their acquisition and/or transmission
  • access to trained peer support workers for advice, information and support
  • access to harm reduction material and information (e.g. condoms)
  • access to substance abuse programs in CSC and community-based Narcotics Anonymous
  • opiate substitution therapy (methadone/suboxone) 
  • anti HIV stigma campaigns
  • health promotion/prevention initiatives on risks of tattooing
  • mental health referral/counselling
  • post-exposure prophylaxis
  • pre-exposure prophylaxis
  • HIV and HCV treatment
  • prevention, diagnosis & treatment of TB (parallel screening for HIV & TB)
  • accessibility to bleach

Research and Statistics

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, evidence from countries where Prison Needle Exchange Programs operate indicates that PNEPs:

  • are not associated with increased attacks on prison staff or other inmates
  • contribute to workplace safety
  • facilitate referral to available drug-dependence treatment programs
  • can coexist with other drug prevention and drug dependence treatment programs

In federal institutions, the prevalence of HIV declined from 2.02% in 2007 to 1.2% in 2017. The prevalence of HCV declined from 31.6% in 2007 to 7.8% in 2017. For the year 2016-17 CSC met and exceeded the UN set targets:

  • 96% of newly admitted offenders to CSC accepted a voluntary blood test for HIV
  • 94% of inmates known to have HIV are on treatment
  • 91% had viral suppression

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