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.
Through this initiative, PWID/PWUD carry out activities that make a positive contribution to their community, such as planting communal gardens and safely cleaning up discarded needles and syringes from local neighborhoods. As well as building their self-esteem and restoring their sense of participation in the community, these activities help community members to see PWID/PWUD in a broader and more positive light. This opens the door for advocacy and greater understanding of the need for harm reduction services. These photos show PWID/PWUD and Metta engaged in community volunteering projects.
The USAID HIV/AIDS Flagship Project is funded by USAID under PEPFAR through UNAIDS Myanmar. Community Partners International is providing project implementation support and management.