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Growing Injectable Drug Menace Swells HIV Cases in Northeast

HIV

India-Myanmar border with Mizoram and Manipur were the main  transit routes for smuggling of yaba tablets and other drugs: BSF IG

AGARTALA/AIZAWL: Increase in the number of injectable drugs’ users has pushed  the HIV prevalence rate up in the north-eastern States, which is also a 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 said.

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

In the eight districts of Tripura bordering Mizoram and Bangladesh, 462 HIV positive  cases had been found, said an ACS official.

Pointing to the 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  north-eastern States, they say. The Golden Triangle is infamous for drug production across  the globe.

Border Security Force Tripura Frontier Inspector General Solomon Yash Kumar Minz has also admitted that the India-Myanmar border with Mizoram and Manipur were the main  transit route for smuggling of yaba tablets and other drugs. (IANS)

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