Pubdate: Mon, 30 Jan 2012
Source: Nanaimo Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Nanaimo Daily News
Author: Gordon Youngman


Distribution of safer crack-smoking kits reduces the risk that people
will share pipes or use broken ones. It is also an opportunity to
connect more drug users with harm reduction programs and other health
and social services.

Sometimes, these are people who would otherwise never approach a
program or agency.

Unfortunately, safer-crack kits that have the materials to make a
safer-crack pipe are not available in all communities.

It is gratifying to see VIHA expanding the crack-pipe kit distribution
as a part of their harm reduction program with Harris House as a model
fixed site program in Nanaimo. Its purpose is not to encourage or
condone the use or possession of illegal drugs. It is to help people
make safer choices in their use of drugs that will reduce the spread
of Hep C and HIV as well as other STIs.

Smoking drugs can lead to open sores, burns or cuts on the lips and in
the mouth, which can transfer blood to a pipe. If the pipe is shared,
even a speck of blood carrying hepatitis C can transmit the virus.
Sharing includes borrowing, lending, passing on, buying, selling,
reusing, receiving or taking any equipment that was used by someone
else. Some people do not identify risk with the word "sharing" or when
reusing involves a close sexual partner (like a boyfriend or

Risk exists, even under these circumstances.

Harm reduction agencies and other public health units in other
Canadian jurisdictions have taken the lead in putting together and
distributing kits that contain the materials needed to make smoking
crack safer and in many ways their harm reduction programs are far
more advanced than those on the Island to date.

Gordon Youngman, Nanaimo
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