WHAT IS BEING DONE?
MAC supports specific services for women who use drugs. One of these is run by MAC partner, Drug Intervention Community Pahang (DiC Pahang) in Pahang State, funded by the Ministry of Health.
DiC Pahang provides a safe space at Projek Persona Grata Wanita, a drop-in centre that provides information, counselling, basic nursing care, provision of condoms and referral to medical services for women using drugs. Last year the project reached 178 female injecting drug users with services.
Two such women are Saira Banu, and Tuan Noraliza.
Saira injects drugs but became seriously depressed when she knew she’d contracted HIV. Ostracised and alienated by her local community she found herself on the streets, barely surviving. Whilst wandering the streets she came across the Projek Persona Grata Wanita drop-in centre.
She became a frequent visitor where she used the facilities to eat, rest and freshen up. Slowly Saira felt better, understanding that despite being HIV positive and using drugs she wasn’t judged by the workers and through counselling sessions and support group activities her self esteem improved.
Saira is now a dedicated and committed permanent member of the Persona Grata Wanita, happy to help out with the tasks given to her. She has stopped using drugs and is working at a nearby restaurant and rents a room not far from her workplace.
“DIC Pahang should operate more drop in centres like this so more female IDU or partners of IDUs can come forward and get help…they have helped me to become a better person,” she says.
Tuan Noraliza, known as Jar, also uses drugs and is with a partner who injects drugs. They live in a traditional Malay village just outside Kuantan. At the same time as managing her own drug use she is also looking after her family and her partner.
She met an outreach worker from Persona Grata Wanita and the services available appealed to Jar. She agreed to try Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) and is now a full time volunteer at the drop-in centre.
“I am indebted to DiC Pahang for the good life that I am living now. I will do whatever it takes and give my best to help my female IDU friends.”
For guidance on working with women who use drugs, download the Alliance Good Practice Guide on HIV and drug use.
The Alliance Community Action on Harm Reduction Project aims to reach 180,000 drug users, their partners and children in China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Malaysia.