The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and five AIDS service organizations are concerned that more police in the Downtown Eastside could increase the risks of HIV and hepatitis transmission.

In a letter yesterday to Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu and Mayor Gregor Robertson, the organizations, which include B.C. Persons With AIDS Society and AIDS Vancouver, expressed concern that a crackdown in the Downtown Eastside could make drug users more likely to shoot up in alleys and use old needles.

The letter argues that drug users would avoid using needle exchanges and the supervised injection site if they fear police will arrest them or seize their drugs.

The letter was written in response to the VPD’s business plan that was presented to the police board in January.

The organizations also express concern that “no-go” judicial orders that restrict chronic bylaw offenders from entering certain parts of the city could restrict access to essential health care.

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