‘Dignity for needy’

2017-11-28 06:01

A drop-in centre is changing the lives of street people in the city centre – by offering them healthcare, a cup of coffee and dignity.

The De Waterkant drop-in care centre is run by TB/HIV Care and offers a non-judgmental space for vulnerable and marginalised people. They provide healthcare services and encourage safer drug use and HIV prevention, explains the organisation’s Alison Best.

“These healthcare services include HIV testing, hepatitis, sexually transmitted infection (STI) and TB screening, other health checks (for example, diabetes and blood pressure) and basic wound care,” she says.

The centre provides treatment, including antiretroviral therapy, counselling and support.

“People who are at increased risk of HIV, hepatitis and STIs (either through sharing or reusing needles or sex work) can also access harm reduction services at the centre. Harm reduction services are strategies that aim to reduce the risks associated with injecting drug use.

“One way TB/HIV Care reduces the harm associated with injecting drugs is by offering a needle exchange programme. Clean needles are exchanged for used needles – eliminating the need to share or reuse injecting equipment. Used needles are collected and destroyed in a safe manner and in accordance with regulations,” she explains.

The drop-in centre also offers pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to sex workers.

“PrEP is a new, safe HIV prevention method for HIV-negative people, which reduces the risk of HIV infection by more than 90%. The PrEP pill is taken daily and sex workers can get a prescription for, and supply of, PrEP at the centre,” she says.

“The drop-in centre is a place to hang out, to escape the hardships of the street for a while, to grab a shower or have access to lockers, computers and the internet. The centre provides skills development classes and advice for job seekers. Clients are given support, care and a cup of coffee.

“Above all else, the centre aims to restore the dignity of people in need – and allow them to exercise their right to healthcare.”

Around 110 people use the centre’s services daily, says Best, and of these visitors around 80% use drugs.

The impact of the centre has already been noted among street people in the CBD, says Pat Eddy, social development manager of the Cape Town City Central Improvement District.

V Continued on page 2.


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