1. Project Title : Drug User Intervention to Prevent HIV/AIDS
Project Goal: To reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS and STIs among the Drug Users through providing education, Harm Reduction-Needle & Syringe Exchange, Abscess Management, Detoxification, Advocacy, addressing human rights issues to involve target communities in Chittagong City Area.
Supporting Organization: CARE Bangladesh/DFID
Coverage: Chittagong City
HIV/AIDS remains at a relatively low prevalence rate in Bangladesh , even among at risk populations like sex workers. However the exception lies in Injecting Drug Users (IDU). According to the World Bank, 70 per cent of IDU share needles, and 83 per cent have Hepatitis C. As previous studies have shown, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) often leave vulnerable groups at a high risk of HIV/AIDS. YPSA, a leading organization in Chittagong regarding the HIV/AIDS arena, worked specifically with Injecting Drug Users and heroin smokers as a means to prevent the potential spread of HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh .
YPSA opened four drop in centers for drug users in the Parhatali, Bandartila, Chawkbazar and Madarbari area. They attempted to bring about positive change in risky behaviours in drug users, and raise awareness among the targeted population about sexual health and drug abuse through the following activities:
1. Capacity Building
Building the skills of people working directly with drug users ensured a sensitive and safe space for the targeted group:
Training peer educators to reach out to the drug user community
Monitoring and Evaluation training that increased staff competence
Program introduction training for staff at the field level
Rapid Situation Assessment Orientation
Awareness raising and available resources were an important part to reaching out to the drug user community:
Free STI service and treatment
Detoxification camps for drug users
condom promotion (53 per cent of drug users were shown to have unprotected sex)
Awareness raising through one to one contact and group sessions
Harm Reduction method that included the distribution of syringes and needles, and collecting used ones
3. Advocacy and Networking
Advocacy meetings were held with various departments and groups to ensure smoother cooperation in the community:
Meetings with the Department of Narcotics Control
Meetings with NGOs and rehabilitation centers
Advocacy meetings at the drop in centers for local government representatives, teachers, religious leaders, drug users, etc.
Four drop-in Centers (DIC) were setup in Chittagong City Corporation area under this project. The project covered 2,971 drug users, distributed 12,513 condoms, 1524 syringes, collected 1278 syringes , 336 condom demonstrated by drug users , distributed 267 needles, collected 210 needles, 474 STI treatments, 351 general treatments and 444 Abscess managements took place, 7,219 one to one sessions conducted by the outreach workers, conducted 1277 group sessions with 4,314 individuals, conducted 5 batch peer educator training, conducted 7 advocacy meetings with NGO and local elites , a total of 1,430 drug users came to our drop-in centre .
Two detoxification camps addressed the mental addiction and problems of drug users.
According to the Rapid Situation Assessment, total drug users were estimated to be 4,014. YPSA was able to cover 2,971 drug users through its one to one contact and group sessions.
Due to funding cuts, the project was terminated in 2004. Drug users remain a hidden and neglected group. Working with them is a challenge because there is a certain amount of hindrance from drug sellers, and landlords who are unwilling to rent space for drop in centers. YPSA will not give up on this population, as they are a group extremely vulnerable to STIs, HIV/AIDS and require much attention. YPSA hopes to gain funding to recommence the Drug User Intervention project.
2. Harm reduction Program among Injecting Drug Users
As a part of HIV/AIDS prevention, YPSA started a harm reduction program among IDUs in Chittagong from January 2007. The goal of the project is to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS infection among the drug users through harm reduction. 200 IDUs and 1500 DUs were covered under this project. Conducted 6255 sessions (One-One and Group), distributed 11,150 Syringes and 15,650 Condoms, Detoxification camps, Advocacy meetings etc. VSO Bangladesh and KAFKO (under CSR) have provided all sorts of technical and financial support to the program.
YPSA actively participated three times in HIV Serological surveillance with ICDDRB, conducted various action researches, advocacy, networking with the GO-NGO-CSO-CBO-Media and published different research reports, newsletters and features on HIV/AIDS and development issues.