Spike in injectable drugs use swells AIDS cases in NE

AIZAWL / AGARTALA:

There has been an increase in number of injectable drugs' users, which has pushed the HIV prevalence rate up in the northeastern states that is also a oft-used corridor for drug smuggling from Myanmar.

According to the AIDS Control Society (ACS) officials in Tripura and Mizoram, here on Sunday, the menace of injectable drugs has been spreading, especially among youths in the northeastern states, bordering China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

"At 2.04 per cent, Mizoram has recorded the highest HIV prevalence rate in the country. It's followed by Manipur (1.43 per cent), Nagaland (1.15 per cent) and Tripura (0.09 per cent)," the ACS officials told IANS.

In Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura, a large numbers of pregnant women has also tested HIV positive.

According to ACS officials, Tripura has 1,622 HIV positive cases, comprising 633 women and 85 children. Of the eight districts of Tripura, 462 HIV positive cases alone had been detected in the North Tripura district that bordered Mizoram and Bangladesh, said an ACS official.

Pointing to rise in injectable drug use, he said, around 170 such cases were detected in Tripura this year. "Since April, blood samples of 9,683 people have been tested as possible high-risk group," he said.

The mountainous Christian-majority state of Mizoram, which shares porous borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, has earned the dubious distinction of being the highest HIV prevalent state in the country.

According to a Mizoram ACS official, nine HIV-AIDS positive cases are being reported in the state a day. Chief Minister Zoramthanga and the Church leaders have urged serious efforts to fight the disease.

The official said use of needles and syringes accounted for 28.16 per cent of HIV positive cases. Parents to child transmission is 2.96 per cent, while homosexual and bisexual transmission is 1.03 per cent. The remaining 1.77 per cent transmission is not specified.

"The majority of drug users in Mizoram use pseudoephedrine pills, which are otherwise a cure for nasal and lung congestion," he said.

Smugglers source the drugs like yaba and methamphetamine (meth) from the Golden Triangle, comprising Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, and distribute it in Mizoram, Manipur and other northeastern states, they say. The Golden Triangle is infamous for drug production across the globe.

While talking to IANS, Border Security Force Tripura frontier Inspector General Solomon Yash Kumar Minz admitted that India-Myanmar border with Mizoram and Manipur were the main transit route for smuggling of yaba tablets and other drugs.