The five-year study is funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The funding announcement follows a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Health to monitor the rise of drug-resistant HIV among users of crystal methamphetamine in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
In B.C., all anti-HIV medications are distributed at no cost to eligible HIV-infected individuals through the Centre's Drug Treatment Program. In 2003, the Centre revealed that one third of people who died from HIV-related causes in B.C. did not receive life-saving treatment. Those who did not receive essential treatment were most likely to be living in the "IDU HIV epicentre" of the Downtown Eastside. A Centre study published this month reveals the lowest life expectancy for HIV-positive individuals in B.C. are IDUs not receiving anti-HIV treatment.
Centre researchers suggest Vancouver's health-care system may face a crisis over the next few years if large numbers of injection drug users, infected with HIV in the mid-1990s, do not start accessing HIV treatment. It's believed 35 per cent of the city's estimated 15,000 IDUs are currently HIV infected.
The new Centre research initiative aims to improve access to life-saving HIV and HCV treatments, says Dr. Thomas Kerr, a Centre investigator.
"There are a significant number of marginalized people who have been successfully treated with drug therapy," says Kerr. "Expanding novel healthcare interventions and addiction treatment strategies is imperative to address the lack of access."
The study will develop a new cohort of approximately 1,000 HIV-infected individuals with a history of injection drug use. The study will compare IDUs receiving and not receiving treatment and examine t
Contact: Glen Edwards
Canadian Institutes of Health Research