Agartala (Tripura) [India], December 2 (ANI): Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Wednesday directed the senior officials of the Health and Family Welfare department to conduct targeted testing in the colleges of Agartala city given the alarming rise in HIV positive cases having a history of injectable drug abuse.
While speaking on World AIDS Day at Pragna Bhavan here, CM Deb said, "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. Unfortunately, the cases are being detected in higher numbers at the most coveted college of the state. The routes of drugs should be identified. If needed the police could be asked for cooperation."
According to Deb, the rise in drug abuse is resultant of a negative mindset that flourished in the state for the last 40 to 45 years.
He said, "Every day 2-3 patients are detected positive in GBP 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."
Giving a clarion slogan: "No place for Drugs, No place for HIV" in Tripura Deb asked the women to play a pivotal role in waging a battle against drugs. "The women, who are living manifestations of Durga and Chandi, should play their role in fighting the drug menace. We should not leave an inch of land for drug abuse and HIV in Tripura," said Deb.
The Chief Minister also informed the gathering that the state council of ministers has already discussed setting up of a national standard drug rehabilitation centre in North Tripura district.
"The whole North Eastern region is devoid of a good drug rehabilitation centre where people who somehow get addicted to drugs can receive treatment. We are contemplating to set up the centre in north Tripura district so that our neighbouring states like Mizoram and Manipur can also access treatment from the centre", added Deb.
According to a data released by the Tripura State AIDS control society, Tripura has a total caseload of 2,459 that include 750 female and 1709 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 to the contagion. The total number of injectable drug users who have been found HIV positive stands at 860 while this year only 300 new patients have been found.
Dr Deep Kumar Debbarma, office head Tripura State AIDS Control Society, said, "We are expanding our infrastructure across the state so that patients can receive timely treatment. The Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) centres which are extremely important to deal with drug abusers are also being increased and in each of the sub-divisional hospitals a facility will be opened for such patients from January next year. As of now, 1,797 patients have registered in centers and more than 300 people completed the treatment cycle without any break."
The district wise caseload of HIV patients in Tripura stands at: North Tripura district 594, West Tripura 564, Dhalai district 408, Unakoti District 261, Khowai district 188, Gomati District 183, Sepahijala district 137 and South Tripura district 109. The number of HIV patients who are not residents of Tripura but stay here is 15. (ANI)