Addiction

Vancouver HIV Strategy Won't Work for Drug Addicts

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The NY Times has an article on harm reduction efforts in Vancouver called “An H.I.V. Strategy Invites Addicts In“. It is entirely focused on HIV reduction with just a passing reference to detox and NO mention of ANY effort to facilitate recovery.

Getting people with HIV onto meds is a VERY good thing. The rest of it makes a lot of sense if you believe that addicts are infectious zombies.

Also, addicts are often so consumed with finding their next hit of heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine that they ignore everything else and will sell anything, including their antiretrovirals.

“I love a lot of the people here,” said Hugh Lampkin, 48 and a heroin addict since he was 16, as he led a tour of the Downtown Eastside neighborhood. He is vice president of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, an addicts’ organization formed in 1997 during a wave of overdose deaths. “You get to know them, they’re really decent. But you always have to watch yourself. Everybody is predatory. Drugs make you that way.”

Downtown Eastside is a shock even to someone familiar with the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1980s or the Tenderloin in San Francisco. Even on a balmy fall afternoon, having 5,000 addicts concentrated in a small neighborhood can make a walk feel like a visit to the set of a zombie movie. On its core blocks, dozens of people are shuffling or staggering, flinching with cocaine tics, scratching scabs. Except for the young women dressed to lure customers for sex, many are in dirt-streaked clothing that hangs from their emaciated frames. Drugs and cash are openly exchanged.

The alleys are worse — people squat to suck on crack pipes, openly undress to find veins or lie down so friends can inject their jugulars — a practice, known as “jugging,” that Insite discourages. The puddles, smelling of urine and feces, are sometimes drawn up into syringes, Mr. Lampkin says — one reason that heart infections hospitalize more addicts than overdoses do.

 

What are the values and beliefs that underly this article?