Shannon Weber on a tour of Insite Supervised Injection Site

Photo credit: Shannon Weber


While I was in Vancouver, for the International AIDS Conference 2015, I attended a series of tours of safer injection facilities. Three of them were organized by Laura Thomas, who is the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. We went to Insite Supervised Injection Site and Providence Crosstown Clinic, both of which are in the Hastings Corridor area of Vancouver.

The Insite clinic is a community based effort that was developed in collaboration with the police department. It provides a clean and safe space for injection drug users to inject themselves with medical assistance available for people who accidentally overdose. They have about forty accidental overdoses per week. This is really a place in which people can get the help that they need when they’re ready to get it. They’re saving people’s lives with the overdose help, it’s also keeping people from being harmed by shooting up on the street. It’s also a gateway for people to be connected with care. Above the Insite clinic there is a short-term detox and a long-term transitional housing. It can really be this gateway for people who are looking to begin or try sobriety and getting clean.

This article talks about the success of treatment as prevention (TasP) in Vancouver as it relates to harm reduction and treatment for addiction.

This was organized as part of an effort to see what it might be like to create some spaces like this in San Francisco. I’m particularly interested in this because I feel that women who inject drugs are particularly vulnerable to violence, housing instability, HIV acquisition, and all these sorts of things. It may be in spaces like this that we would be able to reach them and provide them with supportive services that would change some of those outcomes.


By Shannon Weber, as told to Caroline Watson

Shannon Weber is HIVE?s director, founder of, a frequent love note writer, and mom to three teens.