Assam: HIV-positive jail inmates now to receive free treatments!


For the first time in Assam, a prison intervention project (PIP) aimed at scaling up AIDS awareness and counselling among inmates categorised as high risk groups (HRG) was launched as a pilot project at the Guwahati Central Jail on Tuesday.

The PIP is part of a collaboration between the state prison department, Assam State Aids Control Society (ASACS), National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and Emmanuel Hospital Association, which is acting as an implementing body for PIP along with the state prison department.

The PIP aims to bring various established HIV/AIDS intervention programmes at the state level closer to those lodged in central and district jails. "We don't know how many HIV-positive inmates are lodged in Assam's jails. We have just started the project. We will counsel them and integrate them with intervention programmes," said Rebecca of EHA.

It will help HIV-positive inmates get access to free counselling and medicines. Once rolled out, the PIP will be replicated in all the jails of Assam.

The PIP aims to provide oral/opiod substitution therapy (OST) to drug addicts lodged in prisons. Assam is the last state in the northeast where PIP has been launched. Last year, it was launched at jails of Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

The PIP project is a part of Project Sunshine – a five-year initiative to raise awareness and start intervention programmes for AIDS-affected people in the northeast.

"We cannot take HIV-positive inmates to hospitals outside the jail. Through PIP, we will bring mobile integrated counselling and testing centre (ICTC) to the prisons. In prisons, it is seen that there are HRG people like female sex workers, intravenous drug users and others. The PIP will aim at fostering communication and bring the vulnerable people closer to intervention programmes and correct the HRG inmates' behavioural pattern," said Kailash Ditya, deputy team leader, Project Sunrise.

Project Sunshine is supported by the USA-based federal agency centres for disease control and prevention and implemented by Family Health International 360, a global non-profit development organisation.

Source: The Times Of India