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Project 2007:
You Have The Right To Know Your HIV Status

In conjunction with our on-going Project to provide support for the frontline healthcare workers in DTES, the RIGHT 2 KNOW Project will promote awareness of every personís right to know their HIV status.
Starting the first few week of July, we will be handing out pamphlets and other material in DTES, promoting the right of everyone to be tested for the HIV virus. Our aim is be be certain that everyone in the DTES Community has a clear understanding of their right to be tested. While our Project is certainly not qualified to provide either the test or appropriate counseling, we will be including a list of some services that are qualified to do so. The emphesis will be on healthcare providers that operate in DTES.
Use What We Have To Get It Done.
The Teresa Project has a specific goal: the promotion of existing solutions for urban challenges. In particular, Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) is seen as a test crucible for much that can (and needs to) be done to reduce the sufferring of urban poor.
This website provides linkage and reports on what is being done by leaders in providing real, frontline solutions.

As Important As It Appears?
The new report from Four Pillars may set off a series of actions as important as the development of insite. Much of this document, Preventing Harm From Psychoactive Substance Abuse, has been said before, but that's kinda the point. This is a compilation of a lot of frontline input, and it shows. It's a long read at almost 100 pages, so crammed with real info that the reader will find little in the way of fluff.
Many of the lines within it stand so well on their own that we will quote them over the next while in COLUMN FOUR.
The authors take some strong/brave/contoversial positions on some real issues. It will be interesting to watch other government offices react. The authors have chosen their battles well. Much of what is recommended could be implemented without yet another round of "study." Since the focus of Teresa Project is on "get it done", we wish them well.

Right Person At The Right Place
Dr. Julio Montaner has accepted the position of Director, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Physician Program Director for HIV/AIDS at St. Paulís Hospital, part of Providence Health Care.

"Leave St. Pauls Be" - 70%
(Vancouver) On October 5, the Save St. Paulís Coalition released the results of its recent public opinion survey and the findings are decisive. In a survey of randomly selected adults living within 2.5 kilometers of the hospital, 72% felt that a full service public hospital should be maintained at the current St. Paulís site.

Cost of waiting:
More On The Cost Of Indifference Study after study have confirmed the obvious: if we do not provide an ounce of prevention, we will get billed for a pound of cure. This time the prestegious British Medical Journal, in its 2005/11/17 issue has headlined an article "Illegal Drug Use Could Account For 1 Million Visits A Year To Emergency Care."
Those visits aren't free -- in England, where the study was done, or here, where we pay a proportional tab. That cost can be combined with the cost of drug-related crime (estimated by Vancouver Board of Trade to constitute 80% of all crime), the myriad demands on social services, interception services, housing... the list could go on for quite some time.
Since solutions exist for most of the problems created by illegal drug use, it is time to Get It Done. That will take more than just expanding one Pillar and hoping the drug users will either be jailed or disappear. It is going to take the implementation of many of the known solutions, now. And, to do that, we might want to consider a "Fifth" Pillar: Education. Not of the drug abusers, but of the population of Vancouver.

Letter in the Vancouver Sun:
December 1, 2006
Action. Now.
ďThere is nothing more to be said on HIV/AIDS. We now need action. Thanks to the dramatic advances of the past two decades, HIV infection is now 100-per-cent preventable. Progression to AIDS can be both prevented and treated.Ē
ó Dr. Julio Montaner, Director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paulís Hospital, President-elect of the International AIDS Society (the world's leading independent association of HIV/AIDS professionals), and professor of medicine and chair of AIDS Research at the University of British Columbia.

Editorial (LA Times):
Just the Right Dose
"It's hard to say why so many drug users are dying, but the trend mirrors what's happening across the country. A number of cities, including New York and Chicago, have begun distributing syringes filled with naloxone, at a cost of about $3 each, to drug addicts."
Read the entire editorial in: January 31 editorials of the Los Angeles Times.

Report Statistics:
Massive Rise In MRSA-related Deaths
"The number of deaths linked to the superbug MRSA has risen by 2,236% in just over a decade, researchers said today."
Read the entire article in: February 24 edition of the Guardian Unlimited.

Insite And Other Worldwide Efforts
"Some countries, such as Canada, are exploring innovative options to make injection drug use safer. Vancouver opened the first supervised injection facility in the Americas to address risk behaviors among the cityís large IDU population. In Rio Mark Tyndall of the BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS provided an update on the centerís first 18 months. He reported that there were 15,000 different visitors to the site, which offers needle exchange, provides visitors with information on safe injection practices, and has nurses on hand to supervise injections. Counselors are also available and they can provide referrals to drug detoxification centers in the city.
The Vancouver site is modeled after similar locations in Europe and Australia, which have a good track record at reducing HIV transmission among visitors to the sites. In Vancouver, the HIV transmission rate among IDUs that come to the site continues to be high at around 30%. Visitors were, however, one third less likely to share needles."
Read the entire report in: IAVI Report of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

"Demons Are Winning on Skid Row"
"The call comes in at 11:18 in the morning. Possible overdose on skid row, just half a block... Firefighter-paramedic Dave Chavez, 42, grabs a blank incident report and marches toward his Rescue 9 ambulance with partner Juan Penuelas. At 11:20, they pull out of the station, and Chavez is taking in the devastation...
People stumble and rant, they lie in filth, they trap you with eyes that threaten and plead. Roughly 10,000 people flop on skid row streets each night, up to half of them mentally ill. The landscape is relentlessly bleak, the stench of rotting trash and misery everywhere.
We're on the scene at 11:22. The possible overdose is on her side, writhing on the grimy sidewalk. A few of her friends close in like a flock of ghosts, ulcerated skin ripped raw by needles.
The woman is 25 and says she shot up 10 hours ago. Right here in the open, where heroin is easier to buy than a quart of milk and crack pipes light the night like fireflies... "

So starts a remarkable five-part series by Steve Lopez. Vancouver? It could easily be, but Mr. Lopez is writing about Los Angeles. He writes a regular column in the LA Times. It's always worth reading and this time he has probably set his personal best.

Read the complete first part here. Then read the other four (actually, five -- one was added when the mayor asked to tour with him after the fifth part was printed).

In Plain Sight:Reflections on Life
in Downtown Eastside Vancouver

by Dara Culhane
In compiling this collection of seven life stories from the Downtown Eastside, Culhane and co-editor Leslie Robertson set out to create a space for the voices of women who are seldom heard on their own termsóthe words of people who are publicly visible yet who, due to the blur of preconceptions that surround Vancouverís inner city, remain unseen. Through complex pathways from childhood into the DTES, through periods of addiction and recovery, strength and illness, affluence and poverty, they confront the familiar stereotypes too often presented in the popular media. Culhane teaches anthropology at SFU. (Talonbooks) Adopted by The Tyee.

A very easy-to-understand 
    demonstration of HIV epidemic growth

Making the point.
This remarkable video loop is from the world-famous Centre for Harm Reduction, Burnet Institute in Australia.



Public Service Ad:
Education or Prevention?
"Drug Abuse and HIV: Learn the Link" is the message of a new public awareness campaign announced November 29, 2005, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health.

"Drug abuse prevention is HIV prevention," says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "Research has shown that a significant proportion of young people are not concerned about becoming infected with HIV. In recent years, the number of young people in the United States diagnosed with AIDS rose substantially. Because drug use encourages risky behaviors that can promote HIV transmission, NIDA views drug abuse treatment as essential HIV prevention."

"In addition to public service announcements distributed to television stations across the country, NIDA has launched a website, that provides the latest [U.S. based -ed.] scientific findings on the relationship between drug abuse and HIV."

Image:Pamphlet cover

Inside the pamphlet ____________________

"The cannabis offence rate has risen almost 80 per cent between 1992 and 2002, mostly due to increased numbers of possession offences. Trafficking offences actually declined during the same period."
  - Preventing Harm From Psychoactive Substance Abuse