ARAS (Romanian Anti-AIDS Organization)
Cisco Donation Helps Group Fight AIDS in Romania
ARAS (Romanian Anti-AIDS Organization) has helped more than 5,000 people who are drug addicts to find a new path, working on harm reduction in drug use since 2004. Sixty percent of the people it serves are between the ages of 24 and 35.
An important part of the group’s work is to patrol the streets each night with an ambulance and offer sterile syringes in exchange for used ones — an effort to stop the spread of AIDS. But that’s just the first step in the organization’s harm-reduction strategy. ARAS also provides drug users with psychological assistance, access to medical care, and help in finding a job. For people who are often considered social pariahs, being treated and accepted as normal human beings is almost a miracle.
“The biggest success is when you see that the person you serve is well today, here and now,” says Ludmila Verdeș, who works on monitoring and evaluating the ARAS programs. “Your success means that for a certain period you offer him a normal, healthy life and try to protect him from getting ill.”
In 2010, ARAS received a donation of Cisco networking equipment through TechSoup Romania. The equipment helped the organization connect almost 60 PCs on an intranet network. As a result, the group’s work has become more efficient.