Developing HIV prevention services among drug using populations and among prisoners in South Africa

HIV prevention services among drug using populations and among prisoners in South Africa.


Main objective of the project was to address the HIV epidemic among people using drugs in South Africa by developing targeted public health programmes and services. The project followed the findings of an earlier AIDS Fonds commissioned assessment on HIV risk among in the Sub Saharan region and concentrated on South Africa that has established a emerging drug market and substantial drug using populations. The initiative had the following special objectives:

  • Assess the nature and extent of HIV risk among drug users, of priority needs, of current services, of resources and support for HIV prevention services in South Africa
  • Assist in developing ‘African’ HIV prevention and harm reduction
  • Advocate for effective and inclusive HIV prevention approach among national and local policy makers


The project used a series of Rapid Assessment and Response (RAR). The RAR methodology provides a good
community-based instrument that provides insights at low costs, in limited time and builds local support and
ownership for the identified responses.

Final results

  • 3 local Rapid Assessment and Responses in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria focussing on assessing the situation and preparing adequate interventions
  • Series of advocacy and training events among key stakeholders and local communities in the 3 project regions and among national actors like the Central Drug Authority , Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development
  • Detailed evaluation report providing the key findings, conclusions and key recommendations for follow up programming.

The project catalysed the development of harm reduction policies and services in the country. Significant success was noted from discussions with Departments of Health, Social Development and the Central Drug Authority, who recognise the need on developing effective HIV responses for drug using populations. The initiative from the Trimbos Intitute has been instrumental in widening up the window of opportunity for effective drugs/health policies in South Africa.

  • Product: Report ‘Developing HIV prevention services among drug using populations and among prisoners in South Africa’, J.-P. Kools and F. Trautmann, 2015
  • Project duration: September 2009 - December 2010
  • In cooperation with: SMART, Capetown, South African Aids Association, Johannesburg
    Foundation for Professional Development, Pretoria
  • Funding: Dutch Aids Fonds