Linking services is key to supporting people who use drugs

IPPF clinician

"My friend, who was living on the streets, knew of an IPPA outreach worker, so she asked for them to come and help me."

One client, Tamara*, who uses drugs and was diagnosed with HIV in the 12th week of her pregnancy.

"I was so frightened. It was a difficult childbirth, and I had to have a Caesarean section. It was so painful, I was alone and miserable. I asked for pain medication, but the doctors refused to give me any because I think they thought that I just wanted to get ‘high’. The next day, I ran away. I left my daughter there at the hospital. Even though I was still bleeding heavily, I was determined to get away. 

My friend knew of an IPPA outreach worker, so she asked for them to come and help me. I begged them not to take me back to the hospital. The outreach workers were nice to me. They took me to a clinic to stop my bleeding. The nurse talked to me and gave advice. I was willing to go back to the clinic for follow-ups. It is here that I found out about how to prevent HIV transmission during and after pregnancy, and that I can get free condoms and contraceptive pills at the clinic. I just hope to do something about my addiction so that I can live with my HIV and find ways to live better."

*Not her real name. Image is of IPPF clincian.