On October 15, 2019, a group of Myanmar music stars released a new song and music video called “Don’t Give Up Hope”, sending out a message of support to people affected by drug dependency in Myanmar.
The Myanmar-language song tells the stories of people struggling with drug dependency and the stigma and isolation that they often have to endure in their communities. It emphasizes the need for love, understanding and support from families and friends to help drug users to overcome dependency.
“Don’t Give Up Hope” was written, recorded and produced by Full Stop, a Yangon-based production company, in collaboration with thirteen leading Myanmar recording artists, and supported by a grant from the Cultural Affairs Department of the U.S. Embassy.
The key messages in the song were developed with the support of the 528 Love social media campaign of the USAID HIV/AIDS Flagship (UHF) Project managed by Community Partners International (CPI). The 528 Love campaign uses Facebook to educate people who inject drugs, their families and friends, and the general community on drugs, drug dependency, and related issues.
The chorus of “Don’t Give Up Hope” urges the friends and families of drug users not to give up on them: “Please let them try again. Please don’t look down on them. Please help them get through this. Don’t give up hope.”
Elsewhere, the song encourages drug users to have faith in themselves and their ability to recover: “Please believe in yourself. Don’t stop. Keep moving ahead. Cast aside suffering of the past and try to step out of the darkness.”
In Myanmar, injecting drug use is deeply intertwined with HIV infection. According to Global Aids Monitoring and UNAIDS data for Myanmar in 2018, HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID) is 34.9% - almost 50 times higher than the 0.7% HIV prevalence in the general population.
In areas of Kachin and Shan States affected by conflict fueled by opium production, rates of drug use and HIV prevalence are significantly higher. Data from the 2019 Myanmar Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance Survey shows mean HIV prevalence of 50.2% among people who inject drugs in the five townships in Kachin State surveyed.
Myanmar’s epidemics of HIV and injecting drug use are taking place in the shadows. Stigma and discrimination mean that many PWID have little or no access to harm reduction or support networks to help them to minimize the risks associated with injecting drugs and recover.
This is why positive and supportive messages are so important. They give hope to those caught in drug dependency that there is a way out, and encourage friends and family to support them on their path to recovery.
You can view the “Don’t Give Up Hope” music video here on the 528 Love Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/druginfoforfamilies/videos/875587199501586/
The USAID HIV/AIDS Flagship (UHF) Project is funded by USAID under PEPFAR through UNAIDS Myanmar. Community Partners International (CPI) is providing project implementation support and management to partner organizations.