The harm reduction principles were developed to improve the health of drug users. These principles acknowledge the many reasons why people use drugs and the fact that certain people can’t or won’t stop using. In this context, the goal of harm reduction is to limit the potential negative consequences of drug use, including the spread of contagious diseases like hepatitis C or HIV. Studies have proved that harm reduction is an effective method and that it actively contributes to prevent the transmission of hepatitis C and other infections such as HIV. In the context of harm reduction, drug use and the fact that people continue to use even if the drug has harmful effects, is accepted as part of our society. The goal is to minimize and not ignore these harmful effects, and not to judge drug users. The harm reduction services are provided in a manner that excludes coercion and stigmatization. They prioritize neutral language to describe the behaviours and the choices of drug users.
(Source : CATIE)
Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Born Infections (STBIs)
STBIs (or sexually transmitted diseases – STDs) affect health overall as well as well-being and the reproductive capacity of those infected. There are many STBIs and they can be transmitted through semen, vaginal fluids, blood or other body fluids during sexual activity.
STBIs are caused primarily by bacteria and viruses spread during unprotected sex, by blood or from an infected mother to her child.
STBIs can have more or less serious consequences on health or even cause death. Some have little to no symptoms, so an individual may not even know that they are infected. STBIs can cause complications which can have serious effects on health, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, pregnancy complications, cancer (of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus or penis), chronic degenerative disease of the liver, or birth defects in children.
In Québec, three new individuals become infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Nowadays, we have become more familiar with HIV because more and more of our relatives and acquaintances become infected by it, but the virus continues to generate deep-rooted prejudices. People infected are often discriminated, and this can cause psychological and social consequences for the individuals and their family. People are still dying of AIDS in Québec and the epidemic continues to grow. It is therefore important to provide regular updates on this disease, since it is possible to avoid getting infected. We can then contribute to limit the spread of the virus and counter the prejudice that often surrounds AIDS.
(Source : MSSS)
Like many other STBIs, AIDS can be transmitted through semen, vaginal fluids, blood or other body fluids during sexual activity or from a mother to her child during delivery.
The development of the disease in a person with AIDS has changed a lot in the last twenty-five years because of the apparition of new treatments that slows its progression. However, we must emphasize that these treatments do not heal AIDS contrary to the dangerous popular belief. There is actually an upsurge in the number of new HIV infections. Prevention remains the best defence against this disease, in particular through the use of condoms.
Hepatitis C is a chronic liver disease. An estimated 250,000 people are infected in Canada. Because many people do not have symptoms when they are infected, it is important for those at risk to take action to avoid infecting others. Although the hepatitis C virus (HCV) has existed for a long time, it was only identified in 1989. The HCV causes inflammation of the liver, which can progress to cirrhosis (extensive scarring that can affect the normal function of the liver).