Understanding HIV risk and engagement with harm reduction and HIV services: the lived experiences of women and men who inject drugs in Jakarta, Indonesia

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Copyright: Sudewo, Anindita
In recent years, major changes have affected the national response to HIV with people who inject drugs in Indonesia. These include changes in international HIV funding, the dissolution of the National AIDS commission, and a “war on drugs” declared by the Indonesian president in 2015. Set in this national context, this thesis examines the production of HIV risk for men and women who inject drugs in Indonesia; the factors that influence their engagement in harm reduction and HIV testing, treatment and care services; and the everyday strategies and actions instigated by people who inject drugs to enhance health and wellbeing. This study adopted a qualitative study design, and involved in-depth interviews with 36 men and women who inject drugs, and 10 key informants in community-based organisations (CBOs) and government health services. Key findings pertain to the production of HIV risk for people who inject drugs within micro-level social and physical spaces, influenced by macro-level stigmatising community values and criminalising policies; socio-ecological influences that inhibit their engagement in harm reduction and HIV services, including insular lifestyles associated with drug use and stigmatisation within interpersonal relationships with families and friends; the loss of critical community-based support services; and the shift of HIV care to formal government health services perceived as unsafe, with operations constrained by national policies. Yet, people who inject drugs also demonstrate a range of strategies – with support of people in injecting networks, families, CBOs and health services – that enable them to navigate and negotiate restrictive social, physical and policy environments to seek health and wellbeing. This thesis contributes to an emerging scholarship in social science approaches to public health in Indonesia. It draws on an analytic framework that recognises the interpersonal, institutional and contextual influences on people’s health and wellbeing, as well as the important action that HIV affected communities take to enhance their own lives in challenging contexts. The conclusions argue for the adoption of HIV and harm reduction practices and policies that cater to the complex lives of people who use drugs, and help overcome their everyday experiences of criminalisation and stigmatisation that produce risk and inhibit engagement in appropriate support services.
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PhD Doctorate
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