HIV fear haunts Assam amidst increase in drug abuse cases


GUWAHATI: The fear of HIV infections among injecting drug users (IDUs) in the city looms larger than ever with police unveiling drug users, racketeers and busting drug dens.

As per a report, Kamrup (metro) district reported 4,268 HIV-positive cases till September 30, 2015. So rampant has this menace become that Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced the setting up of a task force to tackle the menace.

IDUs come under high risk groups as they alone comprise 1.46% of the concentration of HIV epidemic as per the HIV Sentinel Surveillance (HSS) data 2010-11 to 2015.

As per the 2015 AIDS Fact Sheet published by the Assam State Aids Control Society (ASACS), the annual occurrence of new HIV infections is showing a downward trend in high-prevalence states like Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. However, the trend is upward in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

"The rise in drug usage is contributed to by a lack of awareness among the youths, their parents and educational institutions. Drug usage is a different set of disease and should be handled differently. The onus should be on harm reduction," said Rajeeb Sharma of Global Organisation for Life Development, a voluntary organization.

AIDS experts and voluntary organizations have called for greater intervention and awareness generation among the youths to prevent them from using injecting and other forms of drugs. They have also suggested roping in parents and schools to combat the new menace.

(TNT Desk, agencies)
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