Mobile X Mobile Needle Exchange

Description of Program

What is the intervention/program/project?
Mobile X works on a cell phone basis. Clients call when they need supplies and other support. A location is set up (e.g., gas station, parking lot, house) and the client is met. VARCS uses a white, unmarked van that allows for the discrete distribution and collection of harm reduction supplies.
The Mobile X mobile needle exchange offers clean harm reduction supplies, including needles, sterile water, cookers, alcohol wipes, cotton filters, ties, personal biohazard containers, safer sex supplies, and safer smoking kits. The Mobile X program staff will also give clients rides to methadone clinics, food banks and medical visits, as well as referrals to other medical and social services. Important one-on-one counselling and support, and referrals, happen en route to appointments.
What is the goal/objective of the intervention/program/project?
The goal is to stop the spread of HIV and other BBIs among people who use illicit drugs. Providing people with information and support to use as safely as possible, including information on drug alerts, is an additional goal. The program also aims to keep people connected and decrease social isolation.
Why was the intervention/program/project originally developed?
The program was developed to respond to a need in the community to offer additional support to harm reduction organizations in Victoria. There was a need in the community for mobile needle exchange that could reach people outside of Victoria.
How was the project developed?
VARCS was approached to develop a mobile needle exchange after the release of a report that illustrated that the most effective way to reach IDU was to go to where they are. VARCS wanted to provide a service that could hit ‘hot spots’ as well as increase accessibility for those who may not access fixed site services. It was decided that a cell phone would be used to increase accessibility. VARCS also chose to use magnetic signs for the van that could be removed when entering residential areas, providing increased confidentiality upon request. Once the word had spread, Mobile X was serving a larger number of “residential” users than street users – i.e. those who chose not to access the fixed site and who lived more remote, quiet lives while maintaining their addiction and housing.


Victoria AIDS Resource & Community Service Society (VARCS)

Program Type

  • Community
  • Education
  • Harm reduction
  • Individual
  • Counselling
  • Education
  • Harm reduction

Populations Served

  • People living with HIV/AIDS
  • People who use drugs

Contact Information

Name: Brittney Johnstone
Position: Acting Executive Director

Location Information: 

Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The catchment area includes Victoria and the Western Communities: Colwood, Langford, Metchosin, Sooke, and the Highlands. Some of these areas are considered rural and others are considered remote in relation to access to harm reduction and other medical services.



Project Resources

Postcards with harm reduction messaging.

Resources for Program


  • Two staff.


  • Staff.

  • The Mobile X van.

  • Harm reduction supplies not covered by Health Authority (i.e., glass stems).


  • Harm reduction supplies.

  • Resources.

Start Date





Output tracking

  • Needles in/out and distribution numbers of all supplies, gender of clients, geographical location, estimated age, number and types of referrals, whether or not people are in supported housing, and secondary distribution.

Evaluation Terms

Output tracking