Access to harm reduction services in Atlantic Canada: Implications for non-urban residents who inject drugs

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Abstract

Awareness of drug use in rural communities and small towns has been growing, but we know relatively little about the challenges injection drug users (IDUs) living in such places face in accessing harm reduction services. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 115 IDUs in urban and non-urban areas of Atlantic Canada. In many instances, geographic distance to a needle exchange program (NEP) meant that individuals living outside of urban areas and who were not provided services through an NEP's outreach program were at a disadvantage in terms of an array of supports offered through many NEPs. These include access to free clean injecting equipment, and such ancillary services as clothing, food, referrals, information and social support. The integration of the services and approaches provided by NEPs into mainstream health services in non-urban places is one possible model for improving such access.

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