The AIDS Care Cohort to Evaluate Exposure to Survival Services (ACCESS) study involves individuals living with HIV who use illicit drugs, mostly living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. Researchers work with participants to investigate how social, economic, physical, policy, and individual factors impact the health and well-being of HIV-positive illicit drug users.

Consistent with other BC Centre on Substance Use prospective cohorts (Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study and At-Risk Youth Study), ACCESS participants complete an interviewer-administered questionnaire and a clinic visit with a nurse every six months as part of the project. Confidential linkage to the comprehensive HIV clinical monitoring and antiretroviral therapy dispensation is merged with HIV treatment data. Using this unique data source, researchers analyze the effects of a number of important factors that can influence participants’ health and well-being including incarceration, homelessness, and involvement in sex work. Molecular genetic and geographic information system approaches are also being used to model the effect of these experiences on treatment outcomes, the rate of new HIV infections in the community, and the generation of antiretroviral drug resistance.


ACCESS research has four main goals:

  • To estimate the effects of social, policy, physical, and economic aspects of the HIV risk environment that shape patterns of individual and community plasma viral load;
  • To characterize geographic and molecular phylogenetic clustering of HIV infections among people who inject drugs (PWID) during a Seek, Test, and Treat campaign;
  • To evaluate patterns of primary and secondary antiretroviral resistance among HIV-positive PWID during a period where there is quickly expanding use of highly active antiretroviral therapy; and
  • To continue to collect data that facilitate comparisons between HIV-positive and HIV-negative PWID in analyses that examine health service use, morbidity, and mortality.


  • BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)
  • Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
  • Drug Treatment Program (DTP)
  • Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS)
  • INC3 Collaboration
  • Pivot Legal Society
  • Portland Hotel Society (PHS)
  • Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU)
  • Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)
  • Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (WAHRS)


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)


To learn more about ACCESS, please contact us or visit our office.

Cristy Zonneveld, Research Coordinator
Phone: (604) 685-6355
Email: [email protected]
Address: 439 Hastings St, Vancouver, BC
Hours: Monday–Thursday 8:30am–5:00pm

BC Centre on Substance Use

400-1045 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2A9

E: [email protected] | T: (778) 945-7616 | F: (604) 428-5183

24/7 Addiction Clinician Support Line: (778) 945-7619

Online Addiction Medicine Diploma: [email protected].

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