On Thursday January 12 at 9am members of VOCAL and other methadone maintenance clients are gathering to meet with OASAS to try and come to an agreement with changes that need to be made at OTP, opiate treatment programs. VOCAL is a wonderful group made up of many people that have either have a history of drug use, are currently still using or know someone that is, or just care about the rights of those who cannot advocate for themselves. OASAS oversees all of the methadone clinics in New York State and are the only ones with the power to make any changes.
The two groups have had several meetings with each other about the findings of a survey that VOCAL took at various OTPs throughout the NYS area with 502 clients. This survey asked various questions regarding the care given by their clinic including how respectful they were treated by the staff and what kind of medical treatment was available. On top of the fact that more clinics are needed upstate and in Staten Island, the most important findings were significant problems with hepatitis C (HCV), bupenorphine, overdose prevention and the need for harm reduction and access to clean syringes. 87% of those interviewed said they would like a syringe exchange in their clinic. The most serious of these is the need for HCV testing, treatment and information. Most people are tested initially but are not given their viral load when found positive and they do not know to ask for it. This is very important because you may test positive but have a viral load too low to be detected or your load may be so high that immediate treatment is necessary. HCV is so widespread that approximately 75-90% of people on methadone programs are infected. So naturally the two should go hand in hand.
If you are on methadone or are interested, please join us at this meeting:
Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 9:00am
501 7th Avenue, 8th Floor (between 37th & 38th Street)
It starts at 9am and ends around 11:30am. It will include video conferencing from members in Albany that cannot make it to NYC.