Health-care outreach to women on the streets who use drugs
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Cape Town - An organisation is advocating for women who use drugs and live on the street to be given access to quality health care.
The SA Network of People Using Drugs (SANPUD), in commemoration of Human Rights Month, staged a two-day health-care services drive, extending health-care services to women who use drugs and live on the streets.
SANPUD chief executive Angela McBride said the organisation had challenged itself to ensure that women living on the streets and those who use drugs realise their right to access life-saving health care.
McBride said: “International Women’s Day forms part of Human Rights Month in South Africa, and we needed to acknowledge that women who use drugs have a right to comprehensive health care and services dedicated and designed for, and by, women who use drugs.
“We wanted to ensure that they too have access to essential health-care services like other women. We set up shop at the Chapel Street clinic in Woodstock and Searl Street Park for two days.
“During that time we were able to assist 76 women who live on the streets and use drugs. We encouraged them to get tested and find out their status about transmittable and treatable diseases, such as cervical cancer, TB, HIV and other STDs, and issued referrals where we could.”
Loren Blake, one of the women assisted by SAPUD, said she was grateful for the initiative, as it had allowed her a moment to focus on her health.
She said: “Although I know I am not HIV positive, the life out there is very cruel, so you never know what will come to you. The new tests scared me, but the doctor did her job well and helped me calm down. The Pap smear was scary, but I went through with it.
“The nurses were great and willing to talk to us and explain things about the tests and the results. For me, the experience was so good that I am going to tell other young women about it.”