Two jails in Assam city register 85 HIV cases in 30 days

Naveen Bharat Editorial

GUWAHATI: In just a month, 85 HIV positive cases were reported in two jails of Assam, which has stirred the authorities.

Cases were reported from both the Central Jail and the Special Jail in Nagaon in September. Nagaon is one of the worst affected districts by drug addiction.

Nagaon Joint Health Services Director Dr Atul Pator claimed that most of the prisoners were HIV positive before their incarceration.

“A lot of drug addicts have arrived in the jail. In recent days, the disease was detected in them,” Pator told this newspaper on Sunday.

Patients are mostly intravenous drug users (people who self-inject drugs). He was arrested by the police under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

Jailor Prabin Hazarika said 40 cases have been detected in the Central Jail. He denied that the prisoners had any access to drugs or that those found positive were infecting others.

Another senior jail official said the patients were treated by doctors from Civil Hospital, Nagaon.

“Even after his release, we contact his family members and provide them necessary assistance and feedback, so that the person can continue with his treatment,” the official said.

Officials of the special jail could not be contacted but he reportedly registered 45 cases.

The police have expressed deep concern over the drug menace. Nagaon Superintendent of Police Anand Mishra said drugs and illicit sex were contributing to the infection.

“They go to different places in search of jobs etc and indulge in illegitimate sexual activities and with many others. Medication is another reason. After returning home, he spread the disease. This has been going on for many years,” said Mishra.

He said the authorities in both the jails should try to find out whether the prisoners had access to drugs. He said that they should be cautious.

Mishra said that recently the police had arrested a pharmacist for supplying drugs to prisoners by taking money.

He said, ‘The number of people outside the jails here will be more than the inmates of the jail. Either there is complicity of the jail staff or they are not doing their job properly. I am disappointed that the people we have arrested are enjoying themselves inside.

The BJP government in Assam led by Himanta Biswa Sarma has already waged a war against drugs. In the last five months, medicines worth over Rs 200 crore were seized. Several smugglers, smugglers and drug addicts were also arrested.

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