Piloting harm reduction
In 1999, UNAIDS and UNODC, Pakistan contracted us to carry out a study of Hepatitis C and HIV among the growing numbers of street based persons injecting drugs in Lahore.
Eight nine percent of the 100 study participants were Hepatitis C positive and fortunately no cases of HIV were detected. The main factor contributing to this infection was the sharing of syringes and injecting equipment among the clients. It was obvious that once HIV is present among this population it too will spread.
This evidence resulted in a major shift in our approach and response to drug use, particularly emphasis on the increasing injecting drug use in Pakistan.
By early 2000, with support and technical guidance from UNAIDS we established Pakistan's first drop in center in Lahore to provide comprehensive and needs based harm reduction services, particularly needle and syringe exchange services.
From 2000 till 2004 these services were established in 5 major cities across all the 4 provinces of Pakistan and services increased from 100 clients to approximately 4000 clients accessing services regularly. These programs were supported by the European Commision and DFID through Futures Group, UK.
UNICEF, Pakistan supported project SMILE which provided street based medical, social, legal and referral services for homeless young people using drugs in Lahore.