Tripura is sitting on an HIV powder keg with colleges becoming the hotspot for new infections.
Seemingly alarmed by the situation, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has directed health authorities to conduct targeted testing in Agartala colleges.
“I have re-verified the data furnished by the State AIDS Control Society with the officials and the pattern in which the cases are increasing is a matter of deep concern. The health and family welfare department — if they feel necessary — should test each and every student of the colleges (in the city). Unfortunately, the cases are being detected in higher numbers at the most coveted college of the state,” Deb said
The Chief Minister said that there is an alarming rise in HIV cases at some of the most popular colleges of the city and there is also a history of injectable drug abuse associated with these colleges.
“Every day 2 to 3 patients are detected positive (for HIV) in Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital, Agartala, and the prevalence is higher among college students. The figures are indicative of an alarming future. We should take immediate steps to control the situation and launch a one-to-one awareness drive to eradicate HIV from the land of Tripura,” he said.
According to Deb, the rise in drug abuse is a result of a “negative mindset” that flourished in the state for the last 40 to 45 years. “The routes of drugs should be identified. If needed the police could be asked for cooperation,” he said.
“The whole North-Eastern region is devoid of a good drug rehabilitation center where people, who somehow get addicted to drugs, can receive treatment. We are contemplating to set up the center in north Tripura district so that our neighboring states like Mizoram and Manipur can also access treatment from the center,” Deb said.
According to data released by the Tripura State AIDS control society, Tripura has a total caseload of 2,459 — this includes 750 female and 1,709 male patients. A total of 640 patients died due to HIV in the last 20 years.
But, the recent figures reveal, in the current year between April and October a total of 560 patients have been detected positive for HIV AIDS. The total number of injectable drug users found HIV positive stands at 860. while this year 300 new patients were found to be injectable drug users.