Due to the historically discriminatory political landscape of South Africa, key populations have been largely stigmatised, rejected and overlooked. Their own voices and opinions were not included in any of the decision-making processes that concerned their well-being – they were the ‘unseen’ and ‘unheard’.
Until recently, the PWUD community has had very limited access to the following basic services: Healthcare, housing, legal services, sanitation and basic human rights. For this reason, it became necessary for South Africa to establish an organisation that had no political allegiance, but could advocate for the improvement of the basic services and rights of PWUD. And so the South African Network of People Who Use Drugs (SANPUD) was born.
SANPUD was established last year and registered as an NGO in 2018. CANPUD (Cape Town Network of People Who Use Drugs) falls under SANPUD – and has the following primary objectives:
- Educate PWUD about safer ways to use drugs
- Assist with the needle and syringe programme – sterile needle distribution and clean ups
- Provide information to key population communities about linkage to care
- Promote harm reduction and the available services to PWUD through peer education and community advisory groups
- Participate in global harm reduction events such as ‘Support. Don’t Punish’
- Advocate for human rights
- Provide paralegal mentoring / guidance
- Assist with family interventions when required
The ViiV Grant, in partnership with INPUD (International Network of People Who Use Drugs), allows our CANPUD members to assist vulnerable communities with testing for HIV – and linking them to care. CANPUD is also assisting HIV positive PWUD to remain adherent to treatment and to gain access to medication through the National Department of Health and TB HIV Care.
The CANPUD team attended a two-day training workshop at the Wynberg site from the 30th to the 31st of July 2018, where they received training from TB HIV Care’s Key Populations Training Coordinator, Des Schouw. Des took them through the background of TB HIV Care and through information and educational materials on TB, universal test and treat (UTT), HIV, medical male circumcision (MMC), sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and treatment adherence in order to prepare them for the task ahead.
Thanks so much to everyone involved.