The newest addition to the partnership is a youthful and energetic Indonesian organisation with ambitious vision. Formed in 2003 by five former drug users, Rumah Cemara has grown to support 51 groups of HIV positive people, working with injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, transgender people and sex workers across West Java province.
“We are very happy to be part of the Alliance and pleased to have been welcomed,” said the group’s Director Ginan Koesmayadi. “Rumah Cemara is a family and joining the Alliance means we have become part of a larger global family that I believe will enrich us all.
“As a grassroots community organisation Rumah Cemara has an important role to play in fighting this epidemic. Through the support of the Alliance and the global partnership we each play different roles and we need to work together to tackle HIV. Every single element is important. We simply cannot do this alone.”
Injecting drug use is the primary mode of HIV transmission in West Java, and is the main focus of Rumah Cemara’s programmes. The organisation provides harm reduction services for injecting drug users in three cities. Unusually, it also operates inside a prison – offering referrals and giving information and psychosocial support to inmates with a history of drug use
Besides its prevention work, Rumah Cemara runs a rehabilitation centre and peer support groups for HIV positive people. The organisation and its community-based partners reached 2,966 injecting drug users and people living with HIV in 2008.
As an organisation run by former drug users, Rumah Cemara exemplifies the strength of community-led responses to HIV. The group plays an active role in local society and engages with health service providers, law enforcement agencies and others to dispel negative attitudes towards populations who are too often marginalized.
Last month staff from Rumah Cemara attended the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Bali, where they presented a range of posters and an oral session on prisoners living with HIV.