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“Young females who use drugs in Nepal calls on global leaders to reaffirm their commitment on HIV and AIDS”

16 March 2011 Posted by No Comment

16th March 2011

Twenty young females who inject drug’s [aged 15-29 years] from Kathmandu valley gathered for 3 days of leadership and advocacy training in Hotel Pension Vasna, Dilli bazaar, Kathmandu on 13th – 15th March 2011.

During the training, the young female participants discussed and reached a consensus about their needs, challenges, gaps and recommendation for a way forward.

Globally , 40% of new HIV infections are among youth under the age of 25, and young people who use drugs are a key affected population (Source: UNAIDS).Evidence released by UNAIDS however also demonstrates that young people have shown tremendous success in leading a HIV prevention revolution worldwide.

Young females who use drugs are an extremely vulnerable group due to a variety of social, structural and other factors. Central Bureau of Statistics, (2006) estimated there are around 3356 females who use drugs in Nepal. However, the participants argue that the data grossly underestimates the true number.

With support from HIV Young Leaders Fund, AAVASH SAMUHA – Youth Chapter [ a separate wing of AAVASH SAMUHA for youth who use drug aged 15-29 years], has supported the empowerment and capacity building of young female who use drugs. “We decided not to take salaries even it is a small amount. We want to support our peer sisters on the ground, who are facing difficulties in their daily lives such as food, transportation to access life saving health services such as needle syringe program, Oral Substitution Therapy etc” said a member of AAVASH SAMUHA – Youth Chapter during the training.

Five years has passed since the 2006 High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS where a commitment to achieving universal access was made. Nepal is also one of the signatory member states on the Universal Access to HIV Treatment, Prevention, Care and Support. Yet, young female who use drug are in the extremely vulnerable of getting new infection, and those already living with HIV are also facing barriers in accessing the services.

Leeja, 22 years, expressed concerned “We have many service organizations providing treatment, prevention, care and support but none of these are young female users friendly. While accessing these services, young female users are questioned and stigmatized about their drug using behavior, health status, lifestyle by the health workers”

Sarah, 24 years, added “Females are already marginalized in our patriarchal social structure. On top of that being female drug user, we find it extremely difficult to enter into mainstream society – How can the prevention work?

Seema [name changed] 19 years, said that “We have been deprived of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. We are powerless with our sexual partners when it comes using contraceptive tools such as condoms. This keeps us more vulnerable to HIV”

We are never involved in decision making forum that affects our lives, just catering certain activities or program is not enough to deal with our issues” added Ms. Nabin Kala and Ms.Sonam C. Sherpa, project staffs.

Mr. Nikhil Gurung of Youth R.I.S.E, an international youth-led network advocating for harm reduction for young people who use drugs, stressed that “Universal Access and Millennium Development Goals cannot be realized if the realities of young female who use drugs on the streets are not addressed”.

There are still many plights of young females who use drugs echoing from the dark corner of streets which are left unheard.

As the global community negotiates a new Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS in the coming months, we ask that the situation, vulnerabilities and needs of young females who use drugs are given key consideration in the deliberations. We call upon the concerned government ministries, civil society, UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral organizations to:

♫  Acknowledge the existence, and specific needs and challenges of young females who use drugs.

♫  Acknowledge, ensure and respect human rights of young females who use drugs.

♫  Ensure the meaningful involvement of young females who use drugs at all levels of decision making that affects their lives.

♫ Allocate adequate resources for comprehensive youth female friendly harm reduction services, taking into consideration the marginalization of young females who use drug.

♫ Integrate sexual, reproductive health and HIV & AIDS services for young females who use drug in the continuum of care package.


For Further information, please contact:

Ms. Sonam Choezon Sherpa, AAVASH SAMUHA, zonumc.sherpa@gmail.com

Ms. Nabinkala Radaku Rai, AAVASH SAMUHA,roudyrai515@hotmail.com

Mr. Nikhil Gurung, Youth R.I.S.E, nikhilgurung@gmail.comwww.youthrise.org

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