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Punjab, Haryana in grip of HIV: UNAIDS

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Chandigarh, January 21

In the wake of the recent upswing in the injecting

drug use (IDU), the HIV infection is staring in the

face of the most prosperous region in the country --

Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh -- a survey by the

UNAIDS has claimed.

The report of the survey, “size estimation of

injecting drug use in Punjab and Haryana”, which was

released by Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Gen

S.F. Rodrigues(retd) here today, painted a sorry state

of affairs saying the IDU was no longer confined to

the metros and are ringing alarms bells for the health

authorities. The report was prepared by the Society

for the Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM) and AIIMS

for the UNAIDS.

In fact, a majority of the IDUs belonged to the age

group of 18 to 30 years and were employed, the survey

says. The users used pharmaceutical preparations mixed

with a variety of sedatives, it added. About 50 to 90

per cent were frequent injectors and about 34 to 94

per cent reported having shared their injecting

equipment, giving rise to the fear of HIV infection.

It may be recalled that as per the 2006 surveillance

data from the NACO, HIV infection among the IDUs was

13 per cent in Punjab and Chandigarh.

Virtually indicting the intervention strategy to check

the IDU, the survey said very few respondents received

any kind of treatment and no one reported having

received any oral substitution treatment.

General Rodrigues termed the situation as alarming,

requiring enormous effort, commitment and dedication

at the level of NGOs and general public.

The time has come for all of us to work together and

find appropriate result-oriented solutions, aiming to

tackle the contributory factors identified in the

survey, he added.

Dr Denis Broun, UNAIDS country coordinator, India,

said creating greater awareness of the high-risk of

HIV transmission associated with unsafe IDU practice

could be an effective step to deal with the issue. It

should be followed by well-designed interventions to

contain the risk of HIV transmission, he added.

Dr B.M. Tripathi and Dr Atul Ambekar of AIIMS, New

Delhi, who co-authored the survey, said the

first-of-its-kind survey could be replicated all over

the country to bridge the gap in information on the

extent and scale of the IDU.

Dr Vanita Gupta, project director, AIDS Control

Society, UT, Chandigarh, T.R. Sarangal, secretary,

Health, and project director, AIDS Control Society,

Punjab, Dr Zeenat, chairperson of the SPYM, also spoke

at the occasion.


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