News in brief

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Not foiled again

The government has accepted the ACMD’s advice to allow for the provision of foil by treatment providers ‘subject to the strict condition that it is part of structured efforts to get people into treatment and off drugs’, home secretary Theresa May has announced. The government would also introduce mechanisms to monitor take-up and adherence to conditions, she said. ‘The provision of foil in needle exchange and drug treatment services can contribute to a reduction in drug injecting and associated health risks, such as exposure to blood born viruses, vein collapse and overdose,’ said DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes. ‘Support that enables heroin and other drug users to reduce the risks to themselves and others can be the catalyst for engaging with treatment and support for recovery.’

Hep C help

A free, confidential helpline for prisoners has been launched by the Hepatitis C Trust. The helpline, which will be open five days a week on 0800 999 2052, allows the trust to ‘reach out to a highly affected population’, said head of patient support services, Samantha May. ‘What we offer is the facility for prisoners to speak with their peers who can empathise with the stigmatisation that someone can face when they have the virus,’ she said. ‘We can answer their questions and tell it like it is.’ The trust has also produced a new briefing for London’s health and wellbeing boards which urges local authorities to improve commissioning, promote testing and encourage training. Councils had an ‘unprecedented opportunity’, said trust chief executive Charles Gore. ‘If we diagnose and treat those infected, we could virtually eradicate the virus within a generation.’ Reducing health inequalities in London by addressing hepatitis C at www.hepctrust.org.uk

 Get networking

A new website has been launched by the Alcohol Health Network to help reduce alcohol-related harm in workplaces and the community. Founded by former Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker, the network works with companies and public health teams to help drinkers understand and reduce their drinking levels via online self-assessment tools, training and advice. www.alcoholhealthnetwork.org.uk

 Marijuana move

As DDN went to press, it was announced that Uruguay’s House of Representatives had passed a bill to legalise marijuana. If approved by the Senate, Uruguay will be the first country to regulate the sale, production and distribution of marijuana.

HIV warning

A ‘significant’ increase in injecting rates among gay men could lead to sharp rises in HIV levels, according to a report from the National Aids Trust (NAT). Earlier this year NAT wrote to London councils warning of the ‘rapid rise’ in the use of drugs like crystal meth and mephedrone in parts of London’s gay scene, coupled with high rates of needle-sharing and lack of appropriate services (DDN, April, page 6). ‘We need drugs and sexual health services to work together to meet the needs of gay men,’ said NAT director of policy and campaigns, Yusef Azad. HIV and injecting drug use at www.nat.org.uk

Separate lives

The Netherlands’ approach to drug policy helped to keep cannabis users separate from ‘hard drug dealers’, according to a report from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Just 14 per cent of Dutch cannabis users reported being able to obtain other drugs from their suppliers, compared to more than 50 per cent in Sweden, says Coffee shops and compromise: separated illicit drug markets in the Netherlands. ‘As other countries and local jurisdictions consider reforming their laws, it’s possible that the Netherlands’ past offers a guide for the future,’ said director of the OSF’s global drug policy programme, Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch. Report at www.opensocietyfoundations.org

 What is recovery?

Birmingham-based UK Recovery Radio (DDN, March, page 17) has released its second ‘Purple Bull’ podcast – What is recovery? – which focuses on the role of harm reduction. Listen at recoveryradio.blogspot.co.uk 

Bereaved by addiction

DrugFAM’s fifth annual Bereaved by addiction conference will take place in High Wycombe on 12 October.

Details at www.drugfam.co.uk, or email administrator@drugfam.co.uk