Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Drugs and Faith

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — At 12 tables, in front of 12 mirrors, a dozen people are fussing intently in raptures of self-absorption, like chorus line members applying makeup in a dressing room.

UNDER WATCHFUL EYES Lawrence Golden-Brooks, 43, at Insite. The injection center offers clean needles as well as tests and treatment for H.I.V.
But these people are drug addicts, injecting themselves with whatever they just bought on the street — under the eyes of a nurse here at Insite, the only “safe injection site” in North America.


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.

Insite [is] a safe haven supervised by nurses. ... About 800 injections take place there daily. However, officials think that is only 5 percent of the injections in the city and want permission from the national government to open more sites.
From the NYT: An H.I.V. Strategy Invites Addicts In

Saw the article in Meera Bai's twitter stream. Meera Will be speaking tomorrow night at Ambrose University College:

On Wednesday, February 9, 2011, at 7:30pm, we have invited Meera Bai to talk about her work with InSite, North America’s only clinic for supervised injection drug use.
InSite has aroused controversy over its practice of handing out clean needles and supervising drug use. Meera will thoughtfully address these concerns. She is in a unique position to provide a moral perspective on harm reduction, having worked as a registered nurse at InSite and other clinics in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the poorest postal code in North America. (You can preview Meera’s experience at InSite at ).

I'll be there.

- Peace

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