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 works to improve access to needle exchanges in prisons. To learn more about needle exchanges in prisons, we can also visit Prison Health Now.
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