– MOROCCO –
THE ALCS’S RISK REDUCTION PROJECT WITH DRUG USERS
February 8th, 2012
In recent years, Morocco has seen a rapid rise in drug use, especially the use of heroin by injection, and along with it an outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C. ALCS is Morocco’s main anti-AIDS association; recognized as an organization for public benefit, it is a founding member of Coalition PLUS and is involved in psychosocial care for people with HIV and proximity prevention programs with the populations most vulnerable to HIV (men who have sex with men, sex workers, and migrants). In response to this rise in cases, ALCS has taken action in risk reduction and in working to defend the rights of drug users.
In 2009, in the absence of institutional funding and given the urgency of the situation, ALCS secured funding first from Coalition PLUS, then from a Catalan agency and from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to set up a needle exchange program in the city of Tétouan. Street workers in a mobile unit distribute injection kits and other material to protect against HIV and hepatitis B and C, including aluminum foil and condoms. From 2009 to 2011, 35,000 syringes were distributed, with a return rate of 51%. Regular mobile testing campaigns for HIV and other STIs are also organized.
As for advocacy, a study carried out in 2011 with 300 drug users documented human rights abuses by police, the justice system, and the health care system. As a result, ALCS led a communications campaign on these violations, which led to a joint declaration by the principal risk reduction and human rights organizations calling for changes in policy.
Because of underfunding, this program suffers from the lack of a centre for drug users and for methadone therapy, but the ALCS is working hard to open one.