HIV positive women who inject drugs provided with emergency support

A nurse at a Drop In Centre medically examining female injecting drug
user in Imphal. Photographer: Prashant Panjiar

Over the last year, Chanura Kol has reached out to more than hundred women who inject drugs, many of whom are HIV positive and all of whom were in need of general and emergency care.  Chanura Kol offered the women essential care and support services. This included emergency support such as providing them with food and medication for sexually transmitted infections, which a large proportion of the women were at risk as their primary source of income was sex work. In addition to this, women were tested for HIV and Hepatitis C.

Chanura Kol also filed cases on behalf of sex workers who were the victims of violence by either their pimps, clients or police officers. Physical and sexual violence are common occurrences in the lives of these women, a number of whom are also forced to consume alcohol and drugs by their clients. In a number of cases, this marks the beginning of their downward spiral into drug addiction. With little or no support to help them out, women, who have been successful in refraining from drug use, go back to sex work where they face the added risk of relapsing into drug addiction. In addition to the women that the Chanura Kol project has reached out till now, the programme aims to provide a holistic range of services to help 550 more women who inject drugs in Manipur by the end of three years.

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The India HIV/AIDS Alliance in partnership with SASO, implements the Chanura Kol project in Manipur. Funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Chanura Kol was initiated in 2010 and serves to expand interventions to reduce drug relapse among female injecting drug users. Based on a holistic and sustainable approach, Chanura Kol aims to address the root causes of vulnerability and the primary causes of relapse post-detoxification for women who inject drugs in India’s Northeastern state of Manipur, many of whom are also sex workers. Chanura Kol provides these women with long-term shelter, creates opportunities for income generation outside of sex work, and encourages the rebuilding of family relationships.

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