Please note: the following text was cut and paste from email correspondence on the CrackCheck google group dated Mon, Oct 19, 2009 and send from Walter Cavalieri. The link to the article is no longer working.
Health officials should offer ‘safer crack kits,’ study suggests
By Wendy Stueck
Globe and Mail
October 19, 2009
Research concludes crack cocaine users have a high risk of contracting HIV
Health authorities should consider handing out “safer crack kits” and providing supervised inhalation rooms for crack smokers to reduce the spread of HIV among crack cocaine users, a new study suggests. Study here – Crack Cocaine link to HIV Transmission Article
Such measures would involve handing out crack pipes that are less likely to cause mouth wounds like burns or cuts, which researchers believe could be one factor in the spread of HIV among crack users.
The study, released Monday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found people who smoke crack cocaine are at increased risk of becoming HIV-infected. The study cited risk factors, including mouth wounds that could make people more vulnerable to infection when engaging in activities such as sharing pipes or oral sex.
Crack cocaine use has become one of the strongest risk factors for contracting HIV and highlights the need for public health programs aimed at crack cocaine users, said Evan Wood, co-director of the Urban Health Research Initiative the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and one of the authors of the study.
The study looked at 1,048 injection drug users in Vancouver over a nine-year period. Participants were HIV-negative when they enrolled. At the end of the study, 137 people, or 13.1 per cent, had contracted HIV. The proportion of people who smoked crack cocaine daily increased from 11.6 per cent in the first of three periods in the study to 39.7 per cent in the final stage.
Those results led researchers to conclude that use of crack cocaine was one of the strongest risk factors for contracting HIV, although the precise way that happens was not covered by the study.
The study’s authors wanted to assess how an apparent shift from heroin to cocaine on Canada’s illegal drug scene over the past decade is affecting the HIV epidemic.
“Safer crack kits” include glass pipes with rubber mouth pieces and are often handed out with other health-related items such as condoms or disposable wipes.
A supervised inhalation room would operate along the lines of Vancouver’s existing supervised injection site, which has been the target of legal challenges and political controversy since it opened in 2003.
Supervised inhalation facilities operated in several European cities, the study says. Such facilities would connect drug users with public health workers and could serve as a bridge to accessing health services, the authors say, adding that any facility should be rigorously evaluated