A large proportion of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus
(HCV) transmissions are attributed to needle sharing amongst injection drug users.
Injection drug users (IDU) have a higher probability of becoming infected with HIV and
HCV and other blood-borne diseases than any other group. According to a survey of IDU, 11
per cent are living with HIV and 68 per cent have been infected with HCV.
costs associated with these long-term illnesses are significant costs for Alberta’s healthcare
system. Despite the fact that Alberta currently has needle exchange programs (NEPs) in
place, the numbers of new cases of HIV have been increasing in Alberta since 2010 from
204 cases to 255 cases in 2013. And in 2013, infection rates were alarmingly highest in
Edmonton with 8.8 cases per 100,000 persons.