HIV Positive: Over 800 Students Test Positive for HIV in State, 47 Deaths Recorded: Full Report

HIV Positive: Over 800 Students Test Positive for HIV in State, 47 Deaths Recorded: Full Report

An alarming HIV report has shocked everyone. According to the report, 828 students have tested positive for HIV and 47 have died in the state of Tripura.

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“We have so far registered 828 HIV positive students. Of them, 572 are still alive and we have lost 47 people to this dreaded infection. Many students have left Tripura to pursue higher studies in coveted institutions across the country,” said a senior official of the Tripura State AIDS Control Society (TSACS).

What is the reason? The Tripura AIDS Control Society has identified students from 220 schools and 24 colleges and universities who are injecting drugs.

“So far, 220 schools and 24 colleges and universities have been identified where students were found addicted to intravenous drug use. We have collected the data from a total of 164 health institutions across the state. The reports are being collected from almost all the blocks and subdivisions before making this presentation,” the TSACS deputy director told ANI.

“In most cases, the children belong to wealthy families and are diagnosed with HIV. There are families where both parents are civil servants and do not hesitate to respond to the children’s demands. When they realize that their children are victims of drugs, it is already too late,” he added.

Needle sharing is a major mode of HIV transmissionHIV/AIDS remains a major global health problem, particularly linked to intravenous drug abuse. Needle sharing among drug users is a major mode of HIV transmission, facilitating the spread of the virus through blood-to-blood contact. In many regions, this type of behaviour is responsible for a significant proportion of new HIV infections.

Factors contributing to this link include unsafe injection practices, limited access to sterile needles, and the marginalization of drug-using populations. Sharing needles, syringes, or other injection equipment exponentially increases the likelihood of HIV transmission, as the virus can survive outside the body in residual blood.

Efforts to combat this problem include harm reduction strategies, such as needle exchange programs, which provide sterile equipment to drug users to reduce the risk of infection. These programs also offer counseling, testing, and referral to drug treatment services, with the goal of curbing HIV transmission while addressing substance use disorders.

However, challenges persist, including stigmatization of drug users, legal barriers to harm reduction initiatives, and the complex social and economic contexts in which drug use occurs. Addressing the interactions between HIV and intravenous drug use requires comprehensive approaches that integrate public health, social services, and community engagement to mitigate risks and effectively support those affected.

Antiretroviral therapy “Till May 2024, we have registered 8,729 people in antiretroviral therapy (ART) centres. The total number of people living with HIV is 5,674. Of these, 4,570 are men and 1,103 are women. Only one patient among them is transgender,” said an official.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the mainstay of treatment for HIV/AIDS. It consists of a combination of drugs that inhibit the replication of the virus in the body. By inhibiting viral activity, ART helps maintain low levels of HIV in the blood, called the viral load, which preserves immune function and prevents progression to AIDS. This treatment does not cure HIV but effectively controls it, allowing people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives. Adherence to ART is essential to its effectiveness, requiring that prescribed medications be taken every day. Ongoing research aims to improve ART regimens for better outcomes and fewer side effects.

Exact figure of HIV infections in the state

Since April 1999, Tripura has been part of the National AIDS Control Programme. The specific recommendations and action plan of the National AIDS Control Organisation have been followed by the Tripura State AIDS Control Society in all its efforts to contain the epidemic.

The total figure of 828 and 47 refers to the data mentioned in the study. To be more precise, the data as currently provided covers the period from April 2007 to May 2024. The total number of students enrolled in art centres in Tripura during these years is 828, which is the cumulative number of enrolments for each year.

According to NACO guidelines, it can be inferred that 828 students enrolled in art centres over the years are all receiving free antiretroviral treatment. But between May 2024 and 2007, 47 of them died.

In 2022-23, 1,847 new HIV infections were detected (positivity rate: 0.88%) and 67 HIV-related deaths were recorded. In Tripura, 44 HIV-related deaths and 1,790 new infections (positivity rate of 0.92%) were recorded during 2023-24.