Drugs in the time of CORONA.

People who use drugs face a particular set of challenges and vulnerabilities during the global COVID-19 pandemic. SANPUD have pulled together resources from networks, academia, experts and the media to provide accurate, scientific guidance and information to help people protect themselves. We hope this helps inform a compassionate, non-judgmental response in this time of global need when our common fragility is exposed.

We are people who use drugs. We are people who have been marginalized and discriminated against; we have been killed, harmed unnecessarily, put in jail, depicted as evil, and stereotyped as dangerous and disposable. Now it is time to raise our voices as citizens, establish our rights and reclaim the right to be our own spokespersons striving for self-representation and self-empowerment. From the Vancouver Declaration.

Harm Reduction in South Africa

“Harm reduction” is a pragmatic, non-judgmental set of strategies to reduce individual and community harm caused by drug use. The focus is on taking incremental steps to reduce harm rather than on eliminating drug use. Abstinence may or may not be the end goal. One the many approaches described as harm reduction aims to prevent the spread of infections (including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other blood-borne infections); reduce the risk of overdose and other drug-related fatalities; and decrease the negative effects drug use may have on individuals and communities.

South Africa has four harm reduction projects aimed at HIV prevention among people who inject drugs. One funded by the Global Fund operates in four cities: Cape Town, eThekwini & Nelson Mandela Bay are run by TBHIV Care as the Step Up Project, the Johannesburg site is under the care of Anova Health. PEPFAR/CDC fund the HARMless project in Pretoria, and the University of Pretoria department of family medicine has secured funds to run a community oriented substance use programme (COSUP).