4 things to know about the case for supervised-injection centers

Almost 20 years ago, the rates of overdoses and HIV infections among intravenous drug users were so high in Vancouver, Canada, that the city declared a public health emergency. In 2003 the city opened the first supervised-injection center for drug users, according to a New York Times op-ed.

The opioid crisis in the U.S., which the CDC has called a national epidemic, has caused communities like Ithaca, N.Y., to consider taking a cue from Vancouver. Here four things to know about Vancouver's facility and the case for supervised-injection centers.

1. The Vancouver center is called Insite. Drug users show up with the drugs they've obtained and are given access to clean equipment. Clients inject themselves under nurse supervision.

2. Insite's model has been shown to not only lower HIV infection rates but also to facilitate treatment for the individuals already infected with the virus but who are out of the reach of other public health programs. In that way, the facility is a point of contact for HIV-positive individuals who have yet to begin treatment, according to studies compiled here.

3. People opposed to harm-reduction services like Insite worry that such programs will make injection drug use more socially acceptable. Research has shown the inverse to be true in Vancouver. Rates of illicit drug use as well as the use of alcohol and marijuana among teenagers have all diminished since the center opened, according to the Times.

4. Millions of safe injections have occurred at Insite in its 13 year history, none of which have resulted in death.


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