47 Students Die from HIV Infection, 828 Test Positive, Check the State and the Reason for the Sudden Surge

47 Students Die from HIV Infection, 828 Test Positive, Check the State and the Reason for the Sudden Surge

47 Students Die from HIV Infection, 828 Test Positive, Check the State and the Reason for the Sudden Surge

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A distressing report reveals a critical HIV crisis among students in Tripura, with intravenous drug use being the primary cause.

An alarming report from the state of Tripura has revealed a significant HIV crisis, with 828 students testing positive for the virus, and 47 recorded deaths. This disturbing news has raised serious concerns about the health and well-being of young people in the region.

The Tripura State AIDS Control Society (TSACS) has documented the cases, noting that out of the 828 students, 572 are still alive, while many others have migrated out of the state for higher education in prestigious institutions across the country. The Joint Director of TSACS stated, “We have so far registered 828 students who are HIV positive. Out of them, 572 students are still alive and we have lost 47 people due to the dreaded infection.”

Causes and Contributing Factors

The TSACS has identified students from 220 schools and 24 colleges and universities who are engaged in intravenous drug use, a primary mode of HIV transmission. Needle sharing among drug users facilitates the spread of the virus through blood-to-blood contact. “So far, 220 schools and 24 colleges and universities have been identified where students are found to be addicted to intravenous drug abuse. We have collected the data from a total of 164 health facilities across the state,” explained the Joint Director of TSACS.

The report highlights that most affected students belong to affluent families, where both parents often work in government services. These families, unaware of their children’s drug abuse until it is too late, inadvertently enable their access to drugs. “By the time they realize that their children fell prey to drugs, it was too late,” added the official.

Addressing the Crisis

Efforts to combat this issue include harm reduction strategies such as needle exchange programs, which provide sterile equipment to drug users to reduce infection risk. These programs also offer counseling, testing, and referrals to addiction treatment services. Despite these efforts, challenges persist, including stigma against drug users, legal barriers to harm reduction initiatives, and the complex social and economic contexts of drug abuse.

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)

As of May 2024, the ART centers in Tripura have registered 8,729 people, with 5,674 individuals currently living with HIV. Among them, 4,570 are males, 1,103 are females, and one patient is transgender. ART is essential in managing HIV, helping to suppress the virus and maintain immune function, although it does not cure the infection. 

The situation remains critical, with five to seven new HIV cases being detected daily. During a recent media workshop organized by the Tripura Journalists Union, Web Media Forum, and TSACS, the Joint Director of TSACS presented the troubling statistics. It highlighted the urgent need for comprehensive approaches to address the intersection of HIV and intravenous drug use. 

The HIV crisis in Tripura underscores the urgent need for enhanced public health measures, community engagement, and support for affected individuals.