Author Rana Tassawar Ali, March 6 2014:      In Pakistan, an estimated 100,000 people suffer from HIV/AIDS, and the number of new HIV/AIDS cases is increasing. In Pakistan, where society is mostly governed by conservatives, people create hurdles for changing minds. In this scenario, our society has only few anti-HIV/AIDS agent ORWs (outreach workers) - these are the real change agents. The ORWs provide services to affected clients, and they regularly travel to different spots for providing harm reduction services.

The HIV/AIDS clients in Pakistan are mostly IDUs (injecting drug users), and they belong to both urban and rural areas of the country - many clients live in very remote and tough areas. The ORWs’ way of working is very polite and humble with affected people, and they try to transform change in a client’s behavior and attitude. This work on HIV/AIDS prevention and harm reduction practice is one of the biggest challenges in Pakistani culture, and the ORWs are facing this challenge with strong commitments. There are many harmful practices causing HIV/AIDS, including syringe sharing and commonly practiced unsafe safe sex, which are the main causes of HIV/AIDS spreading in Pakistan. The work of anti-HIV/AIDS agents is to reduce these practices and improve lives with the good services they are providing.

An organization working on HIV/AIDS, Rutgers WPF, is one of the popular organizations working on harm reduction practice and HIV/AIDS prevention. The core component of Rutgers WPF HARP (harm reduction project) is to provide HIV/AIDS services to clients with reactive HIV test results and create awareness among IDUs who are at highest risk. The organization is working in three different districts of Pakistan: Jehlum, Gujrat and Kasur. Working on HIV/AIDS in conservative communities is a very challenging job for the organization. The Rutgers WPF ORWs and other team members are real heroes for all of the country.

The Rutgers WPF team members and ORWs specifically are anti HIV/AIDS agents, who work with an illiterate and neglected section of society. The working style and their BCC (behavior change communication) are very appealing for clients who are changing their minds. There many clients living a normal life and others fighting with HIV/AIDS that are very thankful to the Rutgers WPF team. The ORWs behavior with clients is very polite and their active listening skills give space to clients to engage with them for positive change. The communication for development and change often requires a public debate, and the service and BCC of ORWs seem very impeccable among the public. The change occurs through good service delivery and effective communication and through advocacy.  The Rutgers WPF team do this job accurately.