To mark International Women’s Day 2019, we look at innovative approaches to reaching hidden female drug users and female intimate partners of men who inject drugs in Kachin State, Myanmar, with health care and harm reduction services.
Daw Theint Su, a peer educator at Population Services International’s (PSI) TOP Centers (formerly the Targeted Outreach Program), has been living with HIV since 2003. Here she shares her experiences and talks about her work supporting HIV education and prevention.
Community Voices: "By taking every opportunity that we had to explain our activities, people started to understand."
In cities in Kachin State, HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID) is nearly 50%. To reduce transmission of HIV and other viruses through the sharing of contaminated needles and syringes, Metta Development Foundation (Metta) is working to increase access to harm reduction services such as the Needle Syringe Exchange Program (NSEP) at drop-in center locations. Harm reduction "is an evidence-based approach to HIV prevention, treatment and care for people who inject drug[s]," and is part of a wider strategy to address the high HIV prevalence among PWID in Kachin State. These services are supported by the USAID HIV/AIDS Flagship (UHF) Project, funded by USAID under PEPFAR through UNAIDS Myanmar with project implementation support and management to partner organizations. provided by Community Partners International (CPI).
In rural communities in Kachin State, people who inject drugs (PWID) and people who use drugs (PWUD) often face stigma and ostracization. This makes it much harder for them to access harm reduction and recovery services. Harm reduction "is an evidence-based approach to HIV prevention, treatment and care for people who inject drug[s]," and is part of a wider strategy to address the high HIV prevalence among PWID/PWUD in Kachin State. Through the USAID HIV/AIDS Flagship (UHF) Project, Community Partners International (CPI) is supporting local partner Metta Development Foundation (Metta) to help PWID/PWUD engage in community volunteering projects to broaden community perceptions and increase understanding and acceptance of harm reduction services.
Yone Lay is a transgender woman and peer educator who provides health education and referrals at a drop-in center in Yangon, Myanmar. She works with Population Services International (PSI)’s Targeted Outreach Program (TOP) that aims to meet the needs of key populations that are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, including men who have sex with men, transgender people and female sex workers. PSI is a project partner of the USAID HIV/AIDS Flagship (UHF) project managed by UNAIDS through Community Partners International (CPI). Here Yone Lay discusses her responsibilities as a peer educator, her hopes for the transgender community in Myanmar, and the changes she would like to help realize in the future.