Pubdate: Wed, 14 May 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist
Author: Kim Toombs


At one time, harm reduction was considered a radical solution to 
health and social issues facing drug users.

However it should no longer be considered radical to distribute or 
exchange injection equipment, as it is a proven and rational method 
to prevent major health catastrophes.

Despite the Vancouver Island Health Authority's inability to find a 
solution to our current needle-exchange crisis, Victoria must have a 
fixed-site needle exchange.

With the closure of the needle exchange, many communities who already 
face perilous situations will be launched into crisis. VIHA has the 
ability to house the needle exchange immediately in the building on 
Pandora Avenue.

As someone who has worked in harm reduction in Victoria for many 
years, I am aware that a consistent mobile exchange service has been 
needed for years, but only to augment the overwhelmed, underfunded fixed site.

The fixed site is essential, as it provides confidential, vital 
health care to communities isolated by discrimination and abuse. 
Without it we could very well see HIV, hepatitis C and other 
infections skyrocket as the once confidential indoor space is now 
located on the street for all to see.

Expect to see an increase in discarded injection equipment. With no 
accessible public washrooms or appropriate housing, expect many other 
problems to get worse.

We should be demanding that VIHA immediately relocate the needle 
exchange to its new home on Pandora Avenue.

Kim Toombs

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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom