The role of drug users’ advocacy group in changing the dynamics of life in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada Jozaghi, Ehsan
The Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver, Canada, has been the epicentre of HIV and drug overdose related to injection drug users (IDUs) since the mid1990s. In response to growing government inaction, a drug user-run organization known as Vancouver Area Network of Drug User (VANDU) was formed. This study was conducted to capture the genesis and influence of VANDU over the past 14 years in shaping the neighbourhood. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with purposively chosen sample of 11 VANDU board members and those attending the services. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically using NVivo 9 software. Participants’ narratives indicate that VANDU has been instrumental in improving conditions of the DTES, altering the risky injection behaviour of its members. Moreover, VANDU has given a voice to the most marginalized members of society who otherwise would not be represented. Findings from this study highlight the important role that a drug user organization can play in creating new physical and conceptual space.
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