AIRN Poster Presentation at CAHR 2018

The Atlantic Interdisciplinary Research Network on Social and Behavioral Issues in Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS (AIRN) had the opportunity to present a poster – Recommended Models for Introducing Safer Consumption Sites (SCSs) in Nova Scotia – at the recent annual 27th Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research (CAHR), held in Vancouver in late April.

Two key data sources were used to assess needs, challenges, opportunities feasibility and acceptability of introducing SCSs in Nova Scotia and to develop recommendations for preferred provincial models: (1) Literature review on SCS best practices and delivery models nationally and internationally; and (2) Consultations with 54 service providers, provincial-level stakeholders and people who use drugs (PWUD).

Strong support for the introduction of SCSs was found, with participants noting that they save lives, offer connections, and can link PWUD to other critical services. Findings highlighted the need for SCSs to be coordinated within an equitable province-wide systems perspective that: spans the range of health and social services needed by PWUD; provides equitable access to all Nova Scotians, while allowing flexibility in approach by location/context as appropriate; meaningfully engages PWUD and works to address stigma; and incorporates rigorous monitoring and evaluation.

The SCS model must be based on the harm reduction expertise of existing CBOs who must be funded sufficiently and sustainably. Other recommended key features of SCSs for Nova Scotia are outlined under the headings of site, services and staffing, which should include health and social service professionals, along with a strong presence of people with lived experience. The toxicity of the street drug supply was highlighted, as was the need to consider prescription opioids, including medical-grade heroin or hydromorphone.

A phased approach to establishing three different SCS models (integrated, mobile and embedded) across multiple sites (Halifax, Cape Breton and Truro/Amherst or Shelburne) in Nova Scotia is recommended. An implementation team – informed by a panel of PWUD and other harm reduction experts – is needed to develop a multi-year action plan to move the specific recommendations forward.  To view the poster, please click here.

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