News from HR17

Canadian Minister of Health opens International Harm Reduction Conference amid controversy over overdose deaths

The 25th International Harm Reduction Conference (HR17) in Montréal, Canada, kicked off with a dramatic opening session, featuring Jane Philpott, Canadian Minister of Health, along with a group of angry protesters chanting ‘They talk, we die’.


Heroin combined with fentanyl is driving overdose crisis in US

New sources of heroin and increasing adulteration with fentanyl and other stronger analogues are contributing to a growing epidemic of opioid overdose deaths in several regions of the US, researchers reported at the conference.


Injecting drug use increases worldwide, but no increases in needle and syringe programmes

Despite reports of expanding rates of injecting drug use in a new list of countries around the world, no new countries have established needle and syringe programmes in the last three years.


Indonesian buyers club helps people obtain generic hepatitis C treatment

A community-led buyers club in Indonesia has helped more than 100 people get generic direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs to treat hepatitis C and is seeing a high cure rate, according to a presentation at the conference.


Pet care can connect people to health and harm reduction services

Providing free veterinary care can be a good way to bring homeless and marginally housed people into contact with health care, harm reduction and other services, according to a presentation at the conference.


Use of psychedelic drugs may reduce the risk of suicide in female sex workers

Women sex workers who used psychedelic drugs such as LSD were less likely to think about or attempt suicide, while some other drugs increased the risk, according to study results presented at the conference.


People who use drugs may use cannabis and drug cocktails as a form of harm reduction

People who use drugs have come up with innovative strategies that help them reduce harm, including using marijuana to decrease crack use and mixing heroin with methamphetamine to moderate the effects of meth or prolong the duration of heroin’s effects, according to presentations at the conference.


Hepatitis C virus reinfection is uncommon after being cured with DAAs

Most people on opiate substitution therapy were successfully treated for hepatitis C with an interferon-free regimen of grazoprevir/elbasvir (Zepatier), and only a small number became reinfected during three years of follow-up, researchers reported at the conference.


Overamping is a common problem among people who use stimulants

Overdosing on stimulants such as methamphetamine – known as ‘overamping’ – is an under-recognised problem in a harm reduction community that more often focuses on opioid overdose, according to a presentation at the conference.


Combining drug addiction treatment and perinatal HIV prevention leads to good outcomes in Kenya

An integrated programme offering medication-assisted drug addiction treatment and services aimed at preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission led to improved outcomes for opioid-dependent HIV-positive mothers and their babies, according to a presentation at the conference.


Hydromorphone works as well as heroin-assisted drug addiction treatment

Hydromorphone was as effective as pharmaceutical heroin for opioid addiction treatment, but it was associated with fewer serious side-effects, according to results from the SALOME trial presented at the conference.


Drug checking reveals high levels of fentanyl contamination in Vancouver street drugs

A pilot project to check the purity of drugs at Vancouver’s Insite safe injection facility found that around 80% of tested samples contained fentanyl, and people who learned their drugs were contaminated were more likely to reduce their drug doses and less likely to overdose, researchers reported at the conference.


AA amyloidosis is an unrecognised problem among people who inject drugs

AA amyloidosis, a condition resulting from skin and soft tissue infections that can lead to kidney failure, may be more common than previously recognised among people who inject drugs, according to a presentation at the conference.


Other recent news headlines

People with HIV have impaired respiratory health, even when viral load is undetectable

HIV-positive people have impaired respiratory health, even when they have viral suppression with antiretroviral therapy (ART), investigators from London report in HIV Medicine. Respiratory health was compared between HIV-positive and HIV-negative outpatients. Individuals with HIV had poorer respiratory health and were more likely to report breathlessness than HIV-negative participants, findings which remained unchanged when analysis focused on ART-treated HIV-positive people with an undetectable viral load.


Many physicians are wary of providing HIV PrEP for young people

Only about a third of family practice and paediatric providers said they would be likely to prescribe HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to adolescent patients, underlining the need to educate providers outside the HIV and sexually transmitted disease fields, according to a report at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco.


Editors’ picks from other sources

PrEP 17 – The coming of age of PrEP

from Prepster

PrEP17 explores the stories of over a dozen PrEP activists, current and former PrEP users, clinicians, and policy-makers. The 36 minute documentary film, commissioned by PrEPster, shines a light on how PrEP has become available to thousands of people, despite the failures of the health system.

120 Beats per Minute review – passionate and defiant account of 80s AIDS activism

from The Guardian

Cannes Film Festival: Robin Campillo commemorates the legacy of direct-action group ACT UP with a movie that is tragic, urgent and full of cinematic life.

Cuts to AIDS treatment programmes could cost a million lives

from New York Times

At least one million people will die in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, researchers and advocates have said, if funding cuts proposed by the Trump administration to global public health programmes are enacted.

Trump’s restrictions for abortion funding overseas could hinder HIV prevention

from NPR

The newly-released details of the Trump administration’s version of the “Mexico City policy” are raising many questions about its impact not only on abortion but also on preventing HIV and infectious diseases like malaria.

Twilight of a difficult man: Larry Kramer and the birth of AIDS activism

from New York Times

Larry Kramer – writer, advocate, “loudmouth” – helped define AIDS activism and gay life. He ruffled some feathers along the way.

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