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HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Programme

Of 4.5M injecting drug users in Asia, 16% are HIV positive. Recognising unsafe injecting practices as a primary driver of the HIV epidemic in many Asian countries, AusAID set up the eight-year HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Program (HAARP) in 2007. For five years our specialist health consultants managed the Technical Support Unit, providing implementation support to HAARP’s country support and facilitated knowledge sharing throughout the region.

image showing woman placing used syringe in a bin
HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Programme (HAARP)
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HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Programme (HAARP) Disposing of used needles and syringes in a needle syringe programme based in a grocery store on the China-Burma border - part of the HAARP project implementing harm reduction strategies to reduce drug-related HIV harm in South East Asia and China.

...consistently high quality technical assistance and knowledge management.

AusAID Activity Completion Report

Key facts

  • HAARP aimed to strengthen the capacity and will of governments and communities in South East Asia and China to reduce HIV-related harm associated with drug use among men and women.

  • Our health team provided technical support to HAARP’s five country programmes and promoted knowledge sharing across the region.

  • Harm reduction is a response to complex and difficult problems such as illicit drug use. It is pragmatic, evidence-informed and recognises that HIV prevention among drug users must involve public health and public security together with drug-users and community organisations, to enable a coordinated approach to reducing drug related harm.

  • HAARP reached over 10,500 people who inject drugs as well as their sexual partners.

Challenges

HAARP implemented harm reduction strategies to reduce drug-related HIV harm in South East Asia and China. The key to this approach is an emphasis on reducing risk rather than preventing drug use.

Solution

The programme took a two level approach: regional and country-based. HAARP country programmes were set up in Burma, China (Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces), Vietnam, Cambodia, and Lao PDR.

Linking country activities together was the Mott MacDonald-managed Technical Support Unit (TSU) based in Bangkok, Thailand. A key focus for the TSU was to provide technical support to implementation of harm reduction programmes across the five HAARP countries. HAARP delivered harm reduction services in 41 sites reaching over 10,500 people who inject drugs, and their sexual partners.

At a regional level, the TSU was responsible for generating, capturing and sharing experience, knowledge and data between the HAARP countries. The Bangkok team also played a role in helping AusAID to shape attitudes to harm reduction outside of the programme – specifically supporting AusAID to undertake country and provincial-level advocacy work.

Value and benefits

The key outcomes from the support which we provided to HAARP included:

  • Evidence based approaches incorporated in all country plans and implementation.

  • Good practice and innovation documented and disseminated, including a Law and Policy Review for all countries.

  • Capacity of programme managers and service providers built for service delivery, monitoring and evaluation and programme management.

  • Gender mainstreamed in harm reduction programming across all sites, with a documented exponential increase in the number of female injecting drug users and intimate sexual partners of injectors accessing HAARP services.

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