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Harm Reduction Program Research

Annual Drug Survey – We need you to participate!

In 2012, the Harm Reduction Strategies and Services Committee surveyed clients at harm reduction sites across BC to determine drug use across the province. This survey will be implemented again in the summer of 2013.

The Harm Reduction Coordinator in your regional health authority will be seeking your participation soon. A researcher at BC Centre for Disease Control will be the main contact for questions and implementation. To get involved, you can seek information from your regional coordinator or contact Arash at

For more information about last year’s results, check out the Survey on Drug Use Among Harm Reduction Clients report or our e-Zine article.

Youth Injection Prevention (YIP) Project Update

Harm Reduction Program with YIP team
Findings from this stage of the study were presented by the youth and academic team at the Canadian Association for HIV Research Conference in Vancouver, BC April 13, 2013.

In the first Toward the Heart e-Zine, we highlighted findings from the Youth Injection Prevention (YIP) project, a collaborative study that aims to understand and prevent the transition into injection drug use among street-involved youth in Vancouver. In 2012, YIP’s youth co-researchers designed and facilitated knowledge exchange workshops across BC’s five regional health authorities, with 64 youth between the ages of 15-24 participating.

The workshops compared factors associated with the risk and prevention of injection drug use in each community to those identified in the Lower Mainland. Perceived risk factors differed between settings and included living situation, trauma, lack of familial support, boredom, media, drug availability and stigma. Common themes of resiliency factors included the desire for a better life, support from others, concerns for health and self-image, responsibility for others, goals, self-worth and fear of needles. Youth voice emerged as a strong theme with participants expressing their desire to be heard.

Despite varying risk factors for initiating injection drug use, youth participants across BC identify similar protective factors. Prevention efforts should focus on promoting common resiliency factors and seeking youth input. Such approaches will contribute to a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy in BC.

Youth co-researchers’ reflections were also obtained through debriefing sessions after each knowledge exchange workshop and during team meetings. Co-researchers felt that to be research partners, they should be engaged from the beginning of the research process, allowed adequate time to develop skills, and that mutual respect between all involved was required.

The YIP project takes an innovative and groundbreaking approach to community-based research with the engagement of experiential youth co-researchers at every stage. By working collaboratively, researchers and practitioners gain valuable insight and learn to speak a language that respects the experiences of youth.

Sarah Kesselring, current UBC MPH student, present at the Alcohol Policy Conference in Washington this April on “Illicit Alcohol in British Columbia (B.C.): Findings from a Qualitative Research Study.” Details were highlighted in our December 2012 e-Zine.

John Omura, UBC Public Health and Preventive Medicine Resident, present at the Canadian Association for HIV Research Conference on “Findings from the Youth Injection Prevention (YIP) Project: Next steps workshop.”

The YIP youth co-researchers presented at the Canadian Association for HIV Research Conference on “Speaking our Language: Reflections from youth engaged in a community-based participatory research project.” The YIP youth co-researcher also had a presentation at the Public Health Association of BC conference.

Despina Tzemis and Jane Buxton present at the Canadian Association for HIV Research Conference on “The BC Harm Reduction Supply Distribution Program: Preventing HIV and HCV in British Columbia (BC).”