HIV prevention and health promotion among vulnerable groups
AFEW understands that making services equitable and accessible means getting services to vulnerable and hard-to-reach individuals who are often those most in need. This calls for creativity, flexibility, dedication, and, most of all, care. To this end, AFEW strives to build partnerships that bridge sectors and institutions and engage public officials, health professionals, front-line staff, community leaders, and other stakeholders in making the delivery of health and psycho-social services more appropriate, more user-friendly, and more responsive to individual needs.
AFEW’s activities target injecting drug users (IDUs), sex workers (SWs), men who have sex with men (MSM), and homeless youth (‘street’ children). Efforts are aimed at building capacity among service providers working in local governmental, non-governmental, and community agencies through training, informational materials, and the fostering of professional networks. Technical and material assistance is provided to local partners in the development of new and expanded service delivery models such as harm reduction, drop-in centres, community outreach, support groups, peer counselling, and peer education.
Harm reduction methodologies
Whilst there is no universally accepted definition of harm reduction, it generally refers to policies, strategies and programmes that seek to limit the health risks of (injecting) drug use, wherever such risks may be eliminated. Harm reduction methods are recognised as successful strategies by international agencies, such as the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS in responding to HIV. AFEW’s training activities, which rely upon harm reduction methodologies, focus on assisting local partners to expand their services to include needle and/or syringe exchanges, the distribution of condoms, specific health information and referral services for medical, drug treatment, substitution treatment and/or social support. Many of AFEW’s activities rely upon and include harm reduction strategies as a programme component.
Currently AFEW is carrying out programme activities specifically designed to strengthen prevention, treatment, care and support services available to those most vulnerable in the region.