NADA Misses the Mark
A spokesperson for DACA said today: “The evidence clearly shows that the most effective way to reduce harm from illicit drug use is to reduce the number of people using and injecting them. The most pressing concern is the very high incidence of HCV among IDUs and the transmission of HIV due to risk-taking, often fuelled by drug use. An effective strategy involves supply and demand reduction and prevention including education on drug harm and recovery focussed treatment”.
NADA suggests that AOD services provide important harm reduction messages to clients including to use sterile equipment, every time, access rapid HIV testing, and have regular liver health checks. DACA added: “While important, NADA’s advocacy of ‘safe’ injecting, testing and new drug treatments to combat BBVs really misses the mark (1). With roughly 90% of new transmissions of HCV continuing to involve the sharing of injecting equipment and with around 80% of HIV positive men reporting drug use the rising incidence of ICE use means that the drug treatment needs of NSW communities demands a much more rigorous approach than that advocated by NADA”(1) .
The DACA spokesperson said: “Suggesting that injecting can be done safely or that testing or treatment after contraction of HIV or HCV can be the preferred or an effective strategy is misleading and has the potential to cause more harm. These strategies may mitigate some harm but has the overall effect of increasing harm if people do not stop drug use after being tested and while having treatment. Quite apart from the high risk of initially contracting a BBV, the major harm arises from continued re-infection with more virulent strains of the viruses and increasing viral loads thus leading to higher risk of serious liver disease and AIDS while drug users continue to inject or engage in other risky behaviour.”
DACA recommends that any extra funding by the State Government should directed toward agencies that focus on prevention, treatment and recovery.
(1) Advocate, The newsletter of the Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies Issue 1: March 2015