Doctors of the World helps those who are vulnerable due to high-risk behaviours, such as drug use and sex work, which lead to diseases such as HIV and AIDS or hepatitis C. Sex workers, drug users and LGBTI people, especially in countries where homosexuality is illegal, tend to be excluded from mainstream health services either because of neglect or deliberate ostracism, leading to high levels of infection and general poor health.
Our harm reduction strategy involves non-judgemental treatment, which accepts our users’ lifestyle choices, as well as advocacy and campaigning to change social attitudes and combat the stigma that can exclude people from mainstream healthcare. Our network delivers projects in , Myanmar and Tanzania to reduce HIV and hepatitis C among drug users and sex workers.
We have been able to directly support more than 17,000 drug users in Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam, as well as influence government drug policy. We trained nearly 9,000 people in Tanzania, including health workers, police, community leaders and journalists, in harm reduction awareness. We have helped to reduce stigma and increase the take-up of treatment by providing safe spaces for drug users to access basic general healthcare, as well as existing government services like TB treatment and methadone prescriptions.
Drawing on our experience in reducing the harm associated with high-risk practices in rich countries, we are now leading innovative programmes in poorer countries.