AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan (APSS) and a research group at the University of Regina have joined forces to try to use data to curb drug overdoses.
APSS created a website called Report Needles two and a half years ago. It allows people in Regina to report a needle for APSS staff to come pick up and properly dispose of. So far more they have picked up more than 34,000 needles.
According to the latest statistics from the Saskatchewan Coroners' Report, there had been 92 confirmed and 199 suspected drug toxicity deaths so far this year as of Aug. 1.
Now, a new two-year project starting this month called Project Report Needles will use the data from the website to find "hotspot areas" and provide harm reduction in those areas.
"We will be going to areas of high needle prevalence on a monthly basis to offer pop-up naloxone training and support groups offered in partnership with community organizations, very local to the areas where needles are highly prevalent," Eaton said.
"By targeting hotspot areas we expect to be able to reduce the number of drug-related deaths and encourage safer needle use."
Shiny Mary Varghese, the executive director of AIDS South Saskatchewan Incorporated, presents on Project Report Needles. (Matt Howard)
Shiny Mary Varghese, executive director of APSS and co-leader of the new project, said the pop-ups are providing important information.
"You don't have to be using substances to have to save a life. You never know when you come across somebody that you can save a life for," said Varghese.
Varghese said the training they offer at the pop-up tables is easy and takes five to eight minutes.
The team expects various challenges with the project, namely difficulty engaging people on the street for naloxone training and potential fluctuation of numbers for the support group that will be offered.
"We'll be mindful of those risks and adapt the project as necessary over its two-year course," said Eaton.
"People are just trying to really survive," said Varghese. "Sometimes it's not at the top of their mind, so we just have to make sure that we are making it as easy for them to attend the support groups and listen to them."