|The Asian Harm Reduction Network (UNAIDS, 2001, 48 p.)|
Starting in the early 1990s, some programmes began operating in different Asian countries to address both drug use and HIV/AIDS. One of the first of these was the Lifesaving and Lifegiving Society (LALS), an outreach needle-exchange programme in Kathmandu. According to Nepalese laws, that programme was not legal; but somehow the LALS staff managed, and the government tolerated their activities and carefully observed the effects on the growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS among drug users in this country. Around the same time, similar programmes began operating in other Asian countries; these included:
- Sharan, New Delhi, India
- Ikhlas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- the SHALOM Project, Manipur, India
- Save the Children Fund, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
- AIDS Surveillance and Education (ASEP), Cebu City, Philippines
- HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Project for the Hilltribes of Northern Thailand (HAHP).
Funds and other resources were generated through fundraising activities in the local communities or were provided by foreign donors. Programmes whose prime focus was rehabilitation also began to expand their activities to include prevention of HIV infection through information, communication, and education campaigns, peer outreach, needle- and syringe-exchange programmes, and drug-substitution programmes. With the support of the World Health Organization, the Australian Agency for International Development, and the United Nations Development Programme, among others, capacity-building and training workshops were held in a variety of Asian venues from 1991 through 1995. By 1996, the number of programmes addressing drug use and HIV/AIDS had slowly increased. Although these programmes were small, they were influential: by their very existence they demonstrated that it was possible to reduce the risk of HIV transmission among drug users.