Towards a new farmer's life in Paung Tale

Yangon (Myanmar), 1 April 2009 - Ko Naung Mon (not his real name) started taking occasionally heroine and opium in 2007 together with friends. They became regular drug users after three months. He lost his job when his employer found out. When he shifted to injecting drugs, he sometimes shared syringes with his close friends, as they didn't have any knowledge about HIV and the transmission of the disease.

When a friend passed away after a year and he heard for the first time about AIDS affecting Injecting Drug Users (IDU), who share the needles and syringes. Ko Naung Mon started to worry about himself and went to the Drop-In Centre of Muse Outreach Project (MOP) implemented by the Harm Reduction Component of UNODC with funding from the Three Diseases Fund (3DF).

The There he had voluntary HIV testing and counseling. When he learnt that he was HIV positive, at first he felt depressed. He did not want to die. The staff in the drop-in centre encouraged him to freely visit the centre once a week and, eventually, referred him to the Drug Treatment Centre in Lashio, where he could enroll in a five-week detoxification programme in February 2008.

When he came back to Muse, his father had become a member of the Community Advisory Committee of the Muse Outreach Project and Ko Naung Mon agreed with him that he should leave in order to prevent relapse. He moved to his elder sister in Paung Tale, in Bago Division. Before he left, he attended an agricultural training arranged by the Lashio Outreach Project.

Ko Naung Mon started a new life as a farmer in Paung Tale. He sometimes feels like he would need drugs. Whenever this happens, he thinks about his previous life as an IDU and how hard Muse Outreach Project staff tried to help him.