Registering for a Healthy Life: Chanura Kol Helps Women Who Inject Drugs

A registration book lies open in front of a woman who has just used a clean syringe provided by a Drop In Centre in Manipur. The needle is being washed and will be discarded in one of the trash cans that can be seen in the background. Photo by Prashant Panjiar for India HIV/AIDS Alliance

A registration book lies open in front of a woman who has just used a clean syringe provided by a Drop In Centre in Manipur. The needle is being washed and will be discarded in one of the trash cans that can be seen in the background. Photo by Prashant Panjiar for India HIV/AIDS Alliance

Chochong was married at the young age of 15. Unable to cope with her husband’s abuse, she was tempted to try drugs. It was an easy way for her to overcome the suffering she endured every day. In 2010, Chochong met a field worker at a hotspot in Imphal who motivated her to register with Alliance India’s Chanura Kol project. “I was hesitant at first and scared thinking, ‘What will they do?’ Their guidance has helped me lead a healthier life.”

Chochong is not alone. Since 2010, 720 women who inject drugs (WWID) have registered with Chanura Kol to avail a range of services provided by the project. Registered WWID have received psychological and social support through counseling services from Chanura Kol. They have also received information about HIV-related services, as their risk of infection is high, because of injecting drug use and sex work, which many depend on as their primary source of income. Services also include free health checkups with the provision of basic healthcare and treatment support for those living with HIV.

In addition, WWID registered with the project receive income generation support from activities like making pickles, selling dry fish, catering and supplying clothes. This new income can play an essential role in preventing relapse into drug use. Chanura Kol aims to ensure that WWID receive essential support and care services which can prevent them from relapsing and protect them from HIV and other blood-borne viruses like Hepatitis C.

“I have a hope that if I continue to avail services of Chanura Kol, I will soon be able to meet my son whom I left back because of this habit,” Chochong says.

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The author this post, Ankita Bhalla, is Communications Associate, India HIV/AIDS Alliance.

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 north-eastern 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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