July 19, 2008

Where We Wente Wrong

Alright, so aside for my chock-full of alliterations and hilariously punny title (wait for it), this is going to be a not-so-funny little post. I have a serious beef here, and my beef is with Margaret Wente from the Globe and Mail. This is the woman who calls a subaru a "lesbaru" (and no, I don't think she's a friend to the rainbow people), thinks residential schools might have been "beneficial" to some people (for all you Americans, residential schools were educational and Christian institutions where the federal government put Aboriginal kids- beating, child molestation and horror ensued), and finally she wants to see the drug addicts of the world burn in the hell fires (especially the HIV positive ones!) If you would like to read her tirade against harm reduction, you can read it online for free if you visit globeandmail.com, and search for "dumb bitch". No...no, actually you have to search for "wente harm reduction". Anyways, I'm going to lay out what I have to say and just get to the point:

1) Wente asserts that harm reduction doesn't work because it's not rehabilition. Um, ya, that's right Peggy, it's not rehabilitation, it's "harm reduction". In case you didn't bother to look up what that means means before you wrote your article, harm reduction principles mean that we want to see drug addicts live for the day when rehabilitation beds become available. It also means that we would like to see people who are already drug addicts not contracting horrible diseases and infections (HIV and Hep C are just the beginning). And we want to see the people who are already HIV pos not contracting new strains of HIV which are more resistent to treatment (for example). We want these people to live better lives.

2) Wente says that the science is wrong. The science is not wrong. I have read the pdf's people, and I can tell you that the research conducted on Insite Safer Injection Facility, is, as it's previously been lauded, "methodologically robust".

3) This is a fun story. So there were dozens of research projects conducted on Insite from the time it opened its doors. All the research, conducted by various authors (MD's and PhDs) concluded that Insite was succeeding in what it intended to do. Reduce Harm. But our Minister of Health Tony Clement did not like the research, he was simply unhappy that it didn't support his agenda. Which is actually fine. It's OK not to like science because it messes with your (likely religious) "morality"- what is not OK is what Tony did about it. He got a journal (that is NOT peer-reviewed), to create research that stated that Insite was "bad". The best part is, if you go to the website of this journal, and you call its information number, a woman in Florida will pick up on behalf of "Drug Free America". Now why would Drug Free America lady pick up the phone? It's probably because Drug Free America OWNS THE JOURNAL. (No but seriously. Drug Free America actually does own the journal)

4) Side note: Wente never cites anything. What is up with that? Seriously. Also, she doesn't even bother to include any the immense load of scientific work that supports the implementation of safer injection cites, but how quick she is to dismiss that same research! Bascially, her opinion is that the research is "wrong", but fails to give an account of why that is.

5) OH now I remember why she thinks the research is wrong. She says that the researchers (namely Thomas Kerr) have tried to label anybody who has anything other than praise for Insite, as "rogues". Wente goes on to write that it's more than a few "rogues" that have something against Insite. But the only examples she gives are a cop and a doctor who don't believe insite is rehabilitating people. OK Peg, one more time. Insite does not rehabilitate. It makes people feel better. And we run programs like this because we like to consider ourselves compassionate. Furthermore, what the hell do you call some cop and rando doctor who don't believe Insite is rehabilitating- I think we call them, um, rogues?!?!

To be fair, the doc states that he has seen just as many infections in his hospital now, than before Insite opened. He doesn't make the claim, per se, that insite rehabilitates. Regardless he does not present any statistics, or research to go along with his opinion that he sees "just as many infections". If you read any of the research you will find that needle sharing has been cut down drastically, and people are injecting drugs far more safely than before (like using clean water and heating the drugs up properly to somewhat sterilize them, instead of just shaking it up and injecting it in an alley way, impurities and all). So a) if needle sharing is cut down, the HIV infection in the community should remain fairly stagnant, and the rate of new infections should decline. That doesn't mean that your repeat customers will go away Doc. If someone is already HIV pos and they use injection drugs, you will probably see them more than once at St.Paul's

If you would like to read the research on Insite, just follow this helpful link:

If you would like to email Margaret Wente some pleasantries, you can reach her at:


1 comment:

rantsalamode said...

Good rant on Wente. It inspired my own, in fact. Her articles never have facts and they're just so sneaky and even contradictory. I'm glad we are calling her on her bullshit at broadspot....