Peer Led Intervention Project :

Introduction:

The spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic is undermining human capacity and is weakening the potential for sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. In the severely affected nations, the disease is reversing the gains of economic development and shortening life expectancy. In order to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have a major role to play for dealing with its impacts on the individuals, families and society at large.

In the last one and half decades, HIV/AIDS has emerged as one of the most serious public health problems in India. It along with TB and Malaria is the cause for the maximum morbidity and mortality among Indians today. The lack of availability of treatment and care options for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs) along with wide spread stigma and discrimination prevalent in institutional and community settings make it difficult to address this issue. In addition, misconceptions due to the lack of knowledge regarding the disease are still prevalent in the society. Drug using population including Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) and their sexual partners being the vulnerable population for HIV/AIDS are in need of urgent attention and care therefore, through the DFID supported PLI project Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM) is aiming to improve quality coverage of substance using populations to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in partnership with UNODC, FINGODAP and seven RRTCs. Through this project 300 Drug De-addiction cum Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs)/CBOs across the country are involved actively for reducing the risk of HIV among drug users.

The overall purpose is to improve both quality and coverage of Drug Demand Reduction services in the country in order to

a) Raise awareness of the adverse consequences of drug use including HIV/AIDS and

b) Reduce the practices of risky behaviour among drug using populations to break the chain of HIV transmission

Expected outcome:

Thus at the end of the project, there will be:

300 NGOs capacitated to adopt peer led interventions for prevention of HIV among substance users

600 recovering users trained and supported as peer out reach workers

Through 300 NGOs (i.e. 600 POWs), x 50 Peer Volunteers / per site, the intervention will reach out to 15,000 substance users to reduce risk behaviors and improve access to services.

These 15,000 Peer Volunteers would further reach out to about four drug using peers, extending the impact to 60,000 substance users.

Findings of the KABP study will improve knowledge base and help mainstream HIV concerns in drug demand reduction programmes

This intervention is to reach out to out-of-treatment drug users, bring them closer to services and empower them to function as agents of change among their peers and partners. The cost-effectiveness of this intervention will contribute to its sustainability.

SPYM realised through its program experiences that while the problems being faced by the drug dependents related to HIV/AIDS are serious in nature their solutions pose a major challenge for the NGOs to create an enabling environment in order to facilitate them to participate actively in the activities being run for them. Drug dependents are poorly informed about their own high risk behaviour and physical well being, whatever knowledge they have moreover, is incomplete and confusing. SPYM as a secretariat of FINGODAP is geared up to address the issues and concerns of drug using population by generating awareness and involving actively recovering drug users as peer educators as well as community at large through the PLI project in prioritising, planning, implementing variety of need based services for drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention.

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