Government of Canada enhances harm reduction programming to prevent infectious diseases
Working to reduce rates of hepatitis C and HIV among people who use drugs
November 15, 2017 - Calgary, Alberta - Public Health Agency of Canada
Canada is in the midst of a national opioid crisis that has claimed the lives of thousands of Canadians. Governments, non-government organizations, health and public safety professionals, and individual Canadians across the country have been responding to this crisis in an effort to save lives and protect the health and wellbeing of those individuals, families and communities affected.
In Budget 2017 the Government of Canada announced an investment of $100 million over five years and $22.7 million ongoing to support the national measures associated with the Controlled Drugs and Substances Strategy and to respond to the opioid crisis. This includes $30 million over five years for the Harm Reduction Fund to support community-based initiatives to reduce rates of hepatitis C and HIV among people who use drugs.
Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced that the Dr. Peter Centre will receive $1.5 million over 5 years, through the Harm Reduction Fund, to provide support and training to new supervised consumption sites across Canada. Supervised consumption sites have shown positive results in Canada, as well as in other countries – disease transmission and infections, emergency room use and hospital admissions in relation to injection drug use are reduced. Based in Vancouver, the Dr. Peter Centre is the only program of its kind in Canada. It is a leader in HIV care and harm reduction services, particularly for individuals who use drugs and/or are living with HIV or hepatitis C.
The Harm Reduction Fund is a key component of Canada's efforts to reduce the risks associated with intravenous drug use among Canadians. The Fund will be allocated in coordination with the provinces and territories to implement evidence-based, front-line interventions specifically designed to reduce rates of hepatitis C and HIV, which can result from the sharing of drug-use equipment and associated behaviours. It will also support training for health providers or front-line workers as well as assist communities in monitoring the impact of infectious diseases among the populations of people who share drug-use equipment. An open call for proposals will be launched in 2018 for eligible community projects.
“Our Government believes that harm reduction is an important part of our response to the opioid crisis. The announcement today provides another important public health tool to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases that result from the sharing of drug-use equipment. The Harm Reduction Fund will be a targeted investment that will help people who use drugs and share drug-use equipment to adopt safer behaviours, with the goal of reducing the rate of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C across our country.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
“This project allows the Dr. Peter Centre to share our 15 years of experience of integrating supervised injection services into health care and community. We are providing capacity and skills building to organizations across Canada that will be starting supervised injection sites. Our experience of integrating this service into a wider range of health care expands the scope of HIV and hepatitis C prevention strategies. We’re thrilled to work in partnership with the Government of Canada in order to help address a crisis that is hitting communities across the country.”
Scott Elliott, Executive Director
Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation
People who share drug-use equipment continue to be disproportionately represented among new HIV and hepatitis C infections in Canada.
In 2014, 10.5% of new HIV infections were among people who injected drugs.
68% of people who inject drugs and who were surveyed between 2010 and 2012 indicated that they had at one point been infected with hepatitis C.
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
Dr. Peter Aids Foundation
Public Health Agency of Canada
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