The At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS) is a multi-year study of street-involved youth being conducted by researchers at the BC Centre on Substance Use. The study was established in 2005 to explore the individual, social, economic, and environmental factors that influence the health and well-being of street-involved youth in Vancouver. Through interviewer-administered surveys and clinic visits, ARYS is currently following a group of over 900 youth.

During their first study visit and semi-annually, participants receive a health consultation with a nurse including an HIV and hepatitis C test, and complete an interviewer-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire elicits demographic data as well as information about drug use patterns, HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk behaviour including sexual practices and risks related to drug use, access to health and social services, and engagement in the criminal justice system. All participants have access to pre- and post-test counselling; condoms; harm reduction education, risk counselling, and supplies; and referrals to community resources and services.


The overarching objective of the study is to provide information necessary to evaluate current programs and services and recommend interventions and policy changes that will improve the health and well-being of this high-risk and traditionally under-served group.

In addition to the study goals, ARYS:

  • Provides a safe and comfortable environment for youth to take a break from the streets. The ARYS drop-in includes coffee, food, television, and a free phone;
  • Provides a confidential space where youth can talk to a nurse or study staff to obtain information and support with accessing health and social services;
  • Provides optional STI testing and treatment; and
  • Provides information and consultation to community members, service providers, and healthcare workers involved in supporting youth who may have difficulty accessing health and social services.

Peer Research Associates

ARYS includes a team of Peer Research Associates (PRAs). A key activity of the PRAs is outreach and recruitment with youth and service providers. PRAs also work to strengthen ARYS’ community connections by establishing and maintaining improved communication between ARYS, study participants, and community organizations. Among the PRAs’ strengths is the lived experience and passion that they bring to this work, coupled with a strong desire to promote and protect the health and rights of at-risk and street-involved youth. PRAs are also involved in a range of other activities, including participating in community meetings and presentations, helping to develop language for new questions in the ARYS questionnaire, interpreting study findings, and collaborating on manuscripts and reports. Further to this, the role of these important members of the ARYS team is constantly developing, so stay tuned for further news on how PRAs are contributing to the ARYS project.


  • Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)
  • Watari Counselling & Support Services Society


  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • SickKids Foundation


To learn more about ARYS or participate in the study, please contact us or visit our office.

Phone: (604) 687-2797
Toll-free: 1 (877) 244-5744
Email: [email protected]
Address: 1265 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2B4
Hours: Monday–Thursday 8:30am–5:00pm (closed 12:00-1:00pm for lunch)
Address: 611 Powell Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1H2
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8:30am-5:00pm
Facebook: www.facebook.com/arysproject

Who can participate?

Youth are eligible for ARYS if they:

  • Are between ages 14 and 26
  • Have used illicit drugs in the last 30 days (other than marijuana) *
  • Are street-involved
  • Are able to provide informed consent

* We are also interested in speaking to youth who have experience using prescription opiates non-medically.

What does the study involve?

  • Health consultation with a nurse
  • HIV and hepatitis C testing
  • STI testing and treatment (optional)
  • Interviewer-administered questionnaire including topics such as: demographics, drug use, HIV and STI risk behaviour, and access to health and social services
  • After the initial visit, follow-up interviews are conducted every 6 months
  • All participants are given $40 for each study visit as a thank you for their participation
  • The study is completely confidential

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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