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Suzanne Brissette, Martin Rioux, Jessica Gallant, Julie Bruneau
Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec

Background: There is an estimated 5,000-6,000 illicit opiate users in the Montreal region. Illicit opiate use is associated with serious health problems and high harm-related costs. Despite an important increase in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) accessibility in Montreal, it is still not available on demand.
Objectives: To identify sociodemographic characteristics, risk profiles and treatment utilisation of out-of treatment illicit opiate users.
Method: This study is part of the OPICAN cohort study. Baseline data was collected from March to November 2002 through interview-driven questionnaires and HIV, HCV and HBV saliva testing.
Results: Among the first 68 participants, 76.5% were male and the mean age was 27.19 (± 8.53). 50% relied on welfare and 21% reported unstable housing. Heroin was the major illicit opiate used and 92.1% had injected in the last 30 days. Needle sharing was reported by 22.4% of participants. HIV and HCV prevalences were 16.2% and 42.6%. IV Cocaine and crack were used respectively by 72% and 30.9% of the participants. 44.4% of these illicit opiate users had previously received methadone in detox or MMT, 27% tried but could not get methadone and 31% reported that they would like to be in MMT. Only 29.4% had a regular family physician, although 51.5% had visited an emergency room in the last 6 months. Data on all baseline participants will be presented. Subjects will be compared according to their treatment experience and attitude towards methadone.
Conclusion: These preliminary findings suggest that out-of-treatment illicit opiate users are relatively young, also use IV cocaine and engage in high-risk behaviour. However, HIV and HCV prevalences are relatively low. Interestingly, more than a third of this population is motivated towards MMT.