Pilot project to combat opioid crisis using HIV-reduction strategies expands across B.C.

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Pilot project to address opioid crisis
WATCH: Pilot project to address opioid crisis – Jan 17, 2019

Following a successful pilot project in Vancouver, an overdose prevention program is now rolling out province-wide.

For the past year the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS has been assisting Vancouver Coastal Health with BOOST (Best Practice is Oral Opioid Agonist Therapy).

The project applied some of the same strategies used to reduce the spread of AIDS.

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One-thousand one-hundred drug users took part in BOOST, with 17 medical teams ensuring patients took daily medication, including methadone, suboxone and prescription heroin. Approximately 73 per cent of those on the opioid-substitution therapy had been able to stick with the program at the 90-day mark.

“What we are trying to do is get the science right, get the normative process right and then take that to the clinic, to the front lines and support our colleagues to implement those on a steady way, monitoring the outcome,” said Dr. Julio Montaner, Executive Director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

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Dr. Patricia Daly said that users need to be supplied with substances to replace the illegal drugs they are now using, adding “we need to have a safe supply, not unlike the harm reduction initiatives we introduced in the 90s. It’s really about keeping people alive.”

Since January 2016, there have been more than 3,800 confirmed deaths in B.C. due to opioid drug overdoses.

The province-wide project will involve all health authorities and a re-allotment of resources.

As for how many people will participate, those numbers are still undetermined.

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