'Injectable drugs pushing HIV positivity up in Tripura'

Agartala, Dec 01, 2021, ENEWSTIME Desk

Injectable drugs have pushed up the HIV positivity rate considerably in Tripura over the past few years and emerging as a major cause of the disease.


According to Dr. Deep Kumar Debbarma, Head of Office, Tripura State AIDS Control Society, the situation is a matter of concern as around 50-60 percent HIV positive cases were detected among the users of injectable drugs over the past few years. The disease was mostly common among the female sex workers, long-distance lorry drivers and migrant labourers earlier in the State.


Speaking at 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 use of drugs remained the key reason behind the rise in HIV positive cases. He said the injectable drug use is high in the West Tripura District, particularly at Sadar, Mohanpur and Jirania sub-divisions and additional measures were 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) was 69.


Addressing the programme, he said total 2459 people are living with HIV 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 timely treatment to the AIDS patients, he proposed setting up more treatment centres.


In the backdrop higher HIV positivity rate, Dr Debbarma made proposals like the introduction of OST centre in every sub-division including a centre of excellence for AIDS treatment at Agartala Government Medical College.


Dr. Debbarma said with an aim to make Tripura free of AIDS, a multi-department action plan would be initiated for target-based works.


He announced that all the HIV related tests of the patients, which were earlier done by private agencies, would now be made available in the laboratory of the Agartala Government Medical College from January 1 next year.