A ground-breaking needle-exchange programme for gay men has been launched in Cape Town with the aim of reducing HIV infections.

Health4Men, a project providing free sexual healthcare to men who have sex with men (MSM) in South Africa, will commence the needle-exchange programme for male intravenous drug users in the mother city from the middle of August.

This after former American president Bill Clinton announced at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna that PEPFAR/USAID-sponsored organisations can incorporate needle-exchange programmes in their interventions.

“Shared use of needles and syringes places drug users at increased risk of HIV and both hepatitis B and C infections. Unsafe injection practices also lead to negative health consequence such as local skin infections, vascular and cardiac complications and even death,” said Health4Men.

“All these negative health consequences can be reduced by providing a comprehensive program for injecting drug users.”

Health4Men said that its project aims to improve the health of intravenous drug users (IDUs) by linking it to health and counselling services and reducing the stigma that IDU HIV-positive MSM face which acts as a barrier to effective healthcare.

In addition, the organisation will also link its efforts to programmes for those who wish to reduce their drug use and will offer workshops on safe injection techniques, medical treatment for the complications of IDU and free screenings and treatment for HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

These services will be offered in “a caring, non-judgmental environment” by Health4Men, as of mid August, at its clinic in Woodstock, named the Ivan Toms Centre for Men’s Health, located in Victoria Walk Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.

For more information contact Call Health4Men on 021 447 2844.

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