International Harm Reduction Day 2024

Client who is on Buprenorphine explaining her experience and answering the questions from clients

May 7th signifies International Harm Reduction Day, uniting efforts to advocate for harm reduction practices and raise awareness. This year, the AIS Activity commemorated IHRD through a combination of social media posts and support for in-person events in collaboration with AIS’s esteemed partner, Medical Action Myanmar (MAM). An event marked IHRD 2024 at MAM’s South Dagon Clinic, where 24 PWID clients and community members participated. Notably, a female client who was taking medication assisted therapy shared her experience of treatment journey, highlighting its effectiveness.

The MAM Harm Reduction Team explained the event’s background, and clients were encouraged to share their personal histories of drug use, plans for seeking OST, barriers to initiation, and regular follow-up. Some clients shared their experiences about beneficial practices and challenges. The team also discussed overdose awareness, safer drug use, safer sex, and the importance of using sterile and single-use needles and syringes to prevent HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). During an experience-sharing session, a female client receiving medication assisted therapy care at Yangon Mental Health Hospital shared her treatment journey from the first day of medication assisted therapy to her current stable condition. She emphasized the benefits of the medication (Buprenorphine), as well as her success in overcoming withdrawal symptoms without reusing opioids. She suggested that attendees not on the OST program should enroll in the BPN program and take it regularly, as she is now free of opioid cravings and working full-time. The AIS Activity’s dedication to providing vital HIV services to Myanmar’s key populations, coupled with its observance of International Harm Reduction Day, underscores a significant commitment to public health.

This initiative highlights the importance of raising awareness and supporting key affected populations in combating HIV and related challenges. The event at South Dagon Clinic, where PWID clients received information and access to essential services, demonstrates a holistic approach that addresses not only educating but also promoting community engagement through advocacy.