It’s far too easy for drug users to get crack cocaine and crystal meth on the streets of Vancouver, according to a new report. Rates of new HIV infection, homicide and overdose also remain high, according to the Urban Health Research Initiative (UHRI). The 10-year study followed almost 2,000 illicit-drug users in Vancouver, some of whom are homeless. Vancouver shares this problem with other large cities. “Throughout North America, particularly in the U.S., we have failed to address the combined problems of HIV and addiction,” says Dr. Evan Wood, director of the UHRI at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. The report found:

• Steep increases in the use of crack cocaine.

• Significant increases in crystal methamphetamine use, especially among street-involved youth.

• High death rates among injection drug users due to long-term HIV infection.

It also found dramatic decreases in syringe-sharing, drug overdoses and the spread of infectious disease due to growth in supervised drug injecting sites.

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