Durueke explained that NHVMAS would work with women drug users over the next two years to see how it can ensure harm reduction in Nigeria, while integrating gender-specific needs, to have a more holistic approach.
According to her, at NHVMAS our project targets community interest, our primary interest is women. Parts of the things we are doing are identifying community facilitation and community education.
“The drug users identify themselves which is why we are working with their peers, so it appears to have a wide reach, so hoping this program will trend good people in the community, facilitators, and peer educators that will carry out the sensitization and
HIV education around.
“Another interesting thing we are doing on this project is having stakeholders dialogue, there is this issue of denial, and criminality around drug usage and because of that, they are not being provided with the necessary care and supports that they need to lead a meaningful life.”
She, however, added that NHVMAS would be having periodical stakeholders dialogue to get across different populations including the Nigeria Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), which will be part of that dialogue, to enable us discuss the periodization of people who use drugs, especially women, so that we can change their mindset.
On its advocating for a gender-responsive and reduction program for women who use drugs while having unprotected sex, she said: “When we ask them what the specific things they have in this prevention program can address, they said that they need enough condoms, needles and syringes, as we know condoms need to be provided to women who use drugs. They also talked about the lubricant; they also talked about facilitating access to prEp.
“They demanded skill acquisition, they said the idle man is a devil’s workshop because if they are not doing anything they will not have any option but to keep using drugs, and also requested funds, as some of them have acquired some skills but they don’t have the resources to start. So, requested financial support to reduce their vulnerability”, she explained.
A rehabilitation program, they are requesting a rehabilitation program, the program should provide a rehab as some people which to leave the drug life but don’t have where to stay. This is not just to let people stay in rehab for just 3 months and thereafter leave them. They should provide them with lots of livelihoods that will help them by doing an income generation program that assured they will not go back to the drug practice again after leaving the rehabilitation Centre.
“The program should make provisions for their children too, for the children to get the required education support so that they will not end up like them.
“Integrating contraception access, integrating programs that intercept gender violence and also pushing for a woman’s right approach to use and inject drugs. Changing the narrative of people who use drugs and supporting them to have a meaningful life is key”, she added.
Also speaking at the event, the Advocate and Director for HIV prevention in South Africa for NHVMAS, Yvette Raphael, said that in many African countries including Nigeria and South Africa, they have not seen the benefits of prEP both in adolescents and girls.
Raphael pointed out that, “For some reason we have the benefit of prEp two in many adolescent men and many other populations but it’s difficult for our young women and girls to take up prEp. In 2020 adolescent girls and young women age between 15- 24 years in South Africa account for 25 per cent of HIV infections representing 10 per cent of the key population.
“Sex workers and their clients and other men that have sex with men, people who inject drugs and their sexual partners account for 65 per cent of HIV infections globally”, she added.