Vancouver’s drug advocacy group turns 20

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The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users has been pushing for policies to get health care and drug-substitution treatment for their members for 20 years.

The group known as VANDU started in 1997 as a peer support group run by former and current drug users who advocated for the supervised injection site Insite and won court victories for its members.

Co-founder Ann Livingston says members had to interrupt city council and health board meetings to get clean needles for injection drug users during the HIV epidemic that killed thousands of people in the Downtown Eastside.

VANDU currently has three thousand members whose activism helped open about two dozen overdose prevention sites around B-C during the current opioid overdose crisis.