Dr. Patricia Daly with Vancouver Coastal Health and Dr. Rolando Barrios of the BC Centre of Excellence for HIV/AIDS speak to media after announce the provincial rollout of a new program with the hope of curbing the staggering number of overdose deaths in B.C. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

Dr. Patricia Daly with Vancouver Coastal Health and Dr. Rolando Barrios of the BC Centre of Excellence for HIV/AIDS speak to media after announce the provincial rollout of a new program with the hope of curbing the staggering number of overdose deaths in B.C. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

A first-of-its-kind opioid addiction treatment program, first piloted in Vancouver, will soon roll out across the rest of the province as B.C. grapples with nearly 2,800 overdose deaths since 2017.

In a news conference Thursday, members of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Vancouver Coastal Health released results from a one-year pilot program that took strategies used to reduce the spread of AIDS and implemented them on the streets of downtown Vancouver to combat opioid addiction.

READ MORE: Battle to beat AIDS offers lessons in fighting opioid crisis

The BOOST collaborative, which stands for Best-practice is Oral Opioid agoniSt Therapy, involved teams of medical providers and staff regularly checking on 1,100 patients to ensure they didn’t miss their daily medication such as methadone, suboxone or prescription heroin.

The program has so far found success, doubling the number of people keeping to their treatment plan. Roughly 79 per cent of patients stuck to treatment for three months.

According to data collected up to November 2017, 55,400 people were struggling with opioid addiction across the province, and only 36,000 had ever been on treatment.

Roughly 60 per cent of people in treatment withdrew in the first six months, and a further 10 per cent withdrew within a year.

Dr. Patricia Daly reviews overdose deaths per year across the province. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

The BC Centre for Excellence, also known as the BC-CfE, has been recognized worldwide for its “treatment as prevention” strategy to reduce HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Julio Montaner, creator of the anti-retroviral therapy called HAART and the centre’s director, said Thursday that programs that help to meet patients where they are and address their needs along the way are most effective in minimizing risk.

Medical providers on the front lines will have daily lists of patients who are overdue for medication, and reach out to them with reminders. They aim to make a real connection with patients by doing things like getting their cell phone numbers or learning their favourite parks to support them through treatment.

“This is only the beginning,” Montaner said. ” We intend to evolve all the way in implementing programs that are noble, that are different and challenge the system, because we know what needs to be done.”

ONE YEAR LATER: B.C.’s first public health emergency continues

READ MORE: B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

When the crisis was declared in 2016, 300 physicians were prescribing therapy treatment, Vancouver Coastal Health chief medical officer Dr. Patricia Daly.

Three times as many physicians are now doing that, but the number of overdose deaths are still increasing.

The total overdoses for 2018 has not yet been released, but data from the B.C. Coroners Service shows that B.C. is likely to see the same – if not more – as the year prior, which was the worst year for overdoses in the province’s history.

“The number of deaths related to the overdose crisis continues to be staggering,” Daly said. “However, these tangible improvements in care can have a massive effect on people who need such supports to stay on effective treatment.”

Once the program is in place around B.C. for a year, the goal is to keep 95 per cent of patients on treatment for more than three months.

BOOST is partly funded by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program. The centre said it will not increase costs to B.C.’s overdose prevention strategy.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

A young Sicamous Canada Day parade-goer is awed by a colourful float filled with beloved Disney characters during the July 1, 2020 community event. (File photo)
Editorial: Now is the time for Sicamous to shine

Shuswap community might be just what people who work from home are looking for

Greyhound Canada announced May 13 it was closing operations permanently after more than a century of operation. (Black Press file photo)
COLUMN: Goodbye to a never forgotten friend

Greyhound bus trips played a big role in columnist’s life

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

The future of the Okanagan Lake watershed land use will be subject of a new study supported by a $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation. (Contributed)
Grant to help develop Okanagan Lake protection strategy

Study receives $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation.

As they carry out a FireSmart assessment in Salmon Arm, firefighters Carmen Guidos and Steve St. Denis show one of the easy-to-rectify fire hazards that can exist for unsuspecting residents. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Column: Lessons on welcoming a wildfire into your home

The View From Here by Martha Wickett

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Most Read