Trivia Tuesday: Needle Exchanges in Canada

In what year did the first unofficial Canadian needle exchange open?

The first unofficial needle exchange program in Canada opened in 1987 in the city of Toronto. The first official needle exchange programs started two years later, in 1989 in Vancouver and Toronto. 

Needle exchange programs mean those of us who use injection equipment can access new injection equipment on a regular basis and return equipment safely after using it. Using needles one time only and not sharing them with our partners prevents infections such as HIV and Hep C from being passed between people. Using new needles every time also can reduce the likelihood of abscesses forming in our bodies. All in all, the research evidence is clear that needle exchange programs have a positive impact on the lives of those of us who use injection drugs.

To access needle exchange services in Vancouver, visit the Vancouver Coastal Health website for more information -

Needle exchange programs are largely not available in the prison system in Canada. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network released a report in 2009 making the case for needle exchange programs in prisons. To learn more about needle exchanges in prisons, visit

Thanks for joining us for Trivia Tuesday!

YouthCO's office is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. Our programs take place on unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of many Indigenous nations across what is now called BC.

YouthCO believes that all youth have the right to accessible and affirming information about our health. We also know each of us has a unique relationship to our bodies, sex, sexuality, substance use, and harm reduction. For many of us, the words other people use for our bodies and their functions are not the words we use for ourselves. Throughout our website, YouthCO uses words for bodies and sex that we know will not reflect the full diversity of our communities. We have tried to, where possible, be as expansive with our language as we know how to while being as specific as possible. As youth leading the HIV movement, we too are learning about the best words for our experiences and do not do this perfectly. We invite any feedback about the language used on our website to help us move forward in the best ways for all youth in our communities!