By Jenny Tolep, External Relations & Communications
Meet P’Boy – a PSI peer educator who meets with roughly 50 current and recovering drug users in Bangkok, Thailand every day.
P’Boy was once a drug user himself. Since the age of 16, he injected heroine and was arrested 27 times. After living this lifestyle for 15 years, P’Boy decided to make a change in his life. He stopped using drugs and started educating his peers on the risks of using unsterile injecting equipment. He speaks to users on the street and local radio. During one of his radio call-ins, P’Boy met a woman named Jib. They became great friends, and eventually got married and had a family together. P’Boy says love changed his life.
In Thailand, Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) are at high risk of contracting HIV. Roughly 38 percent of IDUs in Thailand are HIV-positive. Much of this is due to sharing and using unsterile injecting equipment, along with lack of access to health services and information.
To lower these statistics, PSI developed the O-Zone Drop-in Center program with the support from the Royal Thai Government and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The program is a network of peer educators and 15 drop-in centers where IDUs can access health services, information, clean injecting equipment and condoms. Peer educators are often those who have experience with drugs, such as P’Boy, in order to reach a wider range of IDUs.
Data from behavioral surveys shows that IDUs with high exposure to O-Zone shared needles at their last injection approximately 2 times less often than IDUs at baseline. Currently, the O-Zone Drop-in Center program serves roughly 1,500 IDUs in Thailand.
Learn more about P’Boy in this short video and feel free to download a picture of this touching moment between P’Boy and his wife as your wallpaper or screensaver.