Dr. Sutcliffe, start paying attention to harm reduction!
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The Point Needle Exchange Program located in the Sexual Health Clinic in downtown Sudbury (10 Elm Street Unit 130 Sudbury Ontario) is extremely broken. People who access harm reduction at this location are required to pass a security guard in the lobby, and then sit in a general waiting room with other members of the public.
While people who are not using The Point services enjoy normal security measures to maintain their confidentiality and privacy, people accessing The Point follow a set of arrows that out them as drug users and make them meet with a nurse for a VERY brief period of time in a space visible to the general public in the waiting area.
Counseling services are not provided. Nurses simply give harm reduction clients their supplies and send them out. Harm reduction is more than just giving people their supplies, it's also treating people with dignity and respect.
Your nurses are doing the best with what they have, but you doctor, have been informed of this issue many times by your own staff, members of the harm reduction coalition of Sudbury, members of the community who use the service and activists and you still have done nothing to create change.
While this system remains in place, people WILL reuse equipment, outreach workers doing street outreach need to work harder to pick up the slack and HIV/Hep C rates will continue to climb in this city.
Dr. Sutcliffe, in order to truly change this situation you will need to:
1) Admit that there are issues.
2) Move The Point program to a stand-alone site and partner with the street outreach teams to run it effectively.
3) Create a peer drop-in program for people using drugs to speak to each other and provide 1-1 or group peer support.
4) Provide onsite rapid testing for HIV and Hep C. Anyone who tests positive should immediately be referred to Reseau ACCESS Network, the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Haven program, Anishnebek Nation's HIV/AIDS program or an equivalent community service that will treat clients with respect and dignity.
Eric Cashmore is an HIV/AIDS Activist in the Greater Sudbury Area. He's struggled with mental health and addiction issues after being sexually assaulted by a group of men in 2007 and contracting HIV.
The goal of this petition is to highlight how harmful the issues the point represent are. As long as that system exists people will continue to get hurt.
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