Tripura has registered an alarming rise in the number of HIV-positive patients over the past few years with around 50-60 percent cases reported among the injectable drug users.
Expressing serious concern, Dr. Deep Kumar Debbarma, Head of Office, Tripura State AIDS Control Society, said the HIV-positive cases were most common among female sex workers, long-distance lorry drivers and migrant labourers for years. But, for the past two to three years, most of the cases were detected among the users of injectable drugs.
While sharing the facts and figures on HIV cases during the state-level World AIDS Day programme held at Prajna Bhavan in Agartala on Tuesday, Dr. Debbarma said, "around 1,20,000 HIV tests were done in 2020-21 and the positivity rate was 0.38 percent. But, till October of 2021-22, the HIV positivity rate increased to 0.68 percent against some 81,000 tests."
He said the use of injectable drugs is high in the West Tripura District, mostly in Sadar, Mohanpur and Jirania sub-divisions. According to the health official, apart from regular awareness programmes, additional measures are being taken to stop the menace.
In a power-point presentation, Dr. Debbarma shared more details. He said 298 injectable drug users were detected HIV positive in 2020-21 against around 2200 tests while the figure in the current year 2021-22 (till October) stood 69.
Addressing the programme, he said a total of 2459 people are living with HIV-positive cases in the state at present of which North Tripura district contributed the highest number of cases.
He said the increase in tests is helping identify HIV-positive cases. To ensure the timely treatment of HIV-infected persons, he proposed setting up more treatment centres and introducing of OST centre in every sub-division including a centre of excellence for Agartala Government Medical College.
Dr. Debbarma said with an aim to make Tripura free of HIV/AIDS, a multi-department action plan would be initiated for target-based works.
Addressing the programme, he said total 2459 people are living with HIV positive cases in the state at present of which North Tripura district contributed the highest number of cases.Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who attended the programme as chief guest, said some students of a particular college in Agartala would be screened for HIV.
While addressing the programme, Deb expressed concern that some students of the college were detected HIV positive following use of injectable drugs.
He passed an instruction to the AIDS Control Society and the Health Department to discuss the matter with the College authority, Education department and police and carry out a drive and unearth the entire chain of drug supply.
The Chief Minister said the treatment centre in GBP hospital registers two-three HIV-positive cases on daily basis, that too mostly among the students. He stressed controlling the use of drugs to prevent the spread of HIV and in this context, he asked the officials concerned to intensify awareness activities.
On another note, the Chief Minister said that his government was contemplating a plan to set up an institution of the national standard for providing treatment to HIV-positive persons.
Addressing the programme, the Chief Minister made an appeal to all specially women for strengthening the fight against AIDS.
Social Welfare and Social Education minister Santana Chakma, Principal Secretary (Health) J.K. Sinha and Director of Family Welfare and Preventive Medicine department- Dr. Radha Debbarma were also present.
To mark World AIDS Day, awareness rallies, seminars were held in various places and a group of students took part in candle lighting in Agartala on Wednesday.