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Tragic Spread of HIV Among Tripura’s Students Linked to Intravenous Drug Abuse

Students HIV-positive in Tripura, Linked to Intravenous Drug Abuse

Healthcare

Tragic Spread of HIV Among Tripura’s Students Linked to Intravenous Drug Abuse

An unsettling revelation has gripped the state of Tripura, as over 800 students have been found to be HIV positive in Tripura, with nearly 50 having succumbed to the infection. This alarming situation, rooted in intravenous drug use, has highlighted a critical public health crisis affecting the youth in the region.

The Alarming Numbers

According to the Tripura State AIDS Control Society (TSACS), 828 students have tested positive for HIV. Out of these, 572 students are currently alive, while 47 have lost their lives. The statistics span across 220 schools and 24 colleges and universities, reflecting a widespread issue of drug abuse among students. Many of these students have since moved out of Tripura for higher education, potentially spreading the risk to other regions.



Root Causes: A Deep Dive

The core issue behind this HIV positive in Tripura is the rampant use of injectable drugs among students. This mode of drug abuse significantly increases the risk of HIV transmission due to needle sharing. “We have identified students from 220 schools and 24 colleges and universities who are addicted to intravenous drug abuse,” stated a senior official from TSACS.

Socioeconomic Factors and Family Dynamics

A significant portion of the affected students come from affluent families. “In most cases, the children belong to families where both parents are employed in government services and are capable of meeting their demands,” noted TSACS officials. Unfortunately, this affluence and the parent’s ability to fulfil their children’s demands often lead to the delayed realization of their children’s drug addiction.

Needle Sharing: A Critical Transmission Pathway

Intravenous drug use is a well-known vector for HIV transmission. Needle sharing among users facilitates the spread of the virus through blood-to-blood contact. The lack of access to sterile needles and the stigma surrounding drug use exacerbate the situation, making it difficult to implement effective harm-reduction strategies.

Antiretroviral Therapy and its Role

Despite the grim statistics, there is hope through Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). TSACS has registered 8,729 people in ART centres, with 5,674 individuals currently alive with HIV. ART helps suppress the viral load in the blood, preserve immune function, and prevent the progression of AIDS. Adherence to ART is crucial, requiring strict daily intake of medications.

Government Clarification and Response

Following the shocking reports, the Tripura government clarified that the figures of HIV-positive students were collected over a period of 25 years since TSACS’s inception in 1999. The government emphasized ongoing efforts to address the crisis and support affected individuals.

To tackle this public health emergency, a multi-faceted approach is essential. Harm reduction strategies, including needle exchange programs and widespread education on safe injection practices, need to be implemented urgently. Additionally, there must be a focus on destigmatizing drug use and providing accessible addiction treatment services.

Addressing this crisis also requires engaging with families and communities to foster environments where drug abuse can be detected and managed early. Public health initiatives must integrate social services, education, and community engagement to mitigate risks and support those affected effectively.

The situation of HIV-positive in Tripura serves as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of drug abuse and HIV transmission, urging immediate action to protect the youth and curb the spread of this life-threatening virus.

(With inputs from TOI)


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