Safe injection site bringing additional health benefits
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2018 6:19PM EST
Supervised drug consumption is being credited with reducing the spread of two deadly diseases in London, Ont.
The revelation comes just nine months after the temporary overdose prevention site opened.
Though they are focused on preventing overdoses, the Middlesex-London Health Unit says there are a lot of other benefits.
In London, HIV infection peaked in 2016 with 61 new cases. From January to October 2018 there have been just 40.
Hospitalizations for endocarditis - a heart issue often linked to injecting poorly dissolved pills - are also declining.
The MLHU’s Shaya Dhinsa says they are cautiously optimistic.
London's temporary overdose prevention site on King Street opened in mid-February, but has already been used more than 10,000 times.
The site provides clean needles and education about the spread of HIV, as well as heating equipment to more effectively dissolve pills before they are injected.
Dhinsa says, “These rates are decreasing, I wouldn't say it’s the sole reason, but it’s a large portion.”
Aside from saving people from suffering, there is also a financial savings.
The health unit estimates a newly infected person with HIV will cost the health care system about $1.3 million over their lifetime, while in 2016 hospitalizations for endocarditis were estimated at $7.5 million.
So there's optimism that as supervised consumption increases in London, health care costs will continue to decline.
City hall will consider re-zoning 446 York Street to become London’s first permanent supervised drug consumption site in December.