Erin Petrow of the Saskatoon Starphoenix wrote on Indigenous communities within Saskatchewan showing signs of improvement with harm reduction practices implemented inside of the community (2017).
Dr. Ibrahim Khan, the chief medical health officer for Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch in Saskatchewan, noted a 10 % increase in HIV, while at the same time there has been a “massive increase of HIV testing in these communities.”
“The whole point in the HIV and Hepatitis C story is the earlier you can diagnose, the better you have a handle on stopping the spread,” Khan said, “but we want to increase that number — we want to even double that number in the coming years — so that testing is not an barrier.”
Harm reduction’s focus on the lowered harm to communities in spite of drug use becomes an important part of the message from Khan. Where the improvement in community outcomes comes from prevention, one big part of prevention is testing to identify in order to diagnose and treat, which can reduce negative long-term outcomes.
19 Indigenous communities throughout the province of Saskatchewan care for patients with the harm reduction approach through non-judgment. Other aspects of harm reduction relevant to the current opioid crisis include safe drug injective sites with safe needle exchange programs in addition to naloxone kits to avoid the potential fatal consequences of overdoses.
One big barrier for Indigenous populations around public services for drugs is the stigma associated with drug use and misuse in general. Khan says that is the biggest hurdle to access and treatment. HIV infection in Saskatchewan reserves sits at 14.5 people per 100,000. Southern Saskatchewan reserves have the highest rates at 108 per 100,000 people.
Petrow, E. (2017, December 4). Massive increase in HIV testing contributes to effective harm reduction programs in Sask. Indigenous communities. Retrieved from http://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/harm-reduction.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping (lifting, mowing, and raking) and gardening (digging, planting, and weeding). He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He is a Tobis Fellow (2016) at the University of California, Irvine’s (UCI) Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center). He researches in the Learning Analytics Research Group, works as the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger, researches and writes for the Marijuana Party of Canada, and is a contributor for The Voice Magazine. UCI Ethics Center awarded him with the distinction of Francisco Ayala Scholar (2014) for mentoring, presenting, researching, and writing. If you want to contact Scott, you may inquire or comment through e-mail: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.