Five prisoners at Silchar Central Jail in Assam recently tested positive for HIV. Superintendent of the jail, Satyendra Baisya, said two convicts and three under-trial prisoners have tested positive, while other inmates are going through mandatory testing for the deadly virus.
Earlier this month, 88 under-trial prisoners tested HIV positive in Nagaon district of Assam, following which the state government ordered the authorities of other jails to conduct mass testing.
Of the two convicts who tested HIV positive at Silchar Central Jail, one was a Manipur resident and the other was a truck driver, Baisya said.
“Truck drivers don’t take protective measures. The truck driver who was lodged here was positive. The other convict who later also tested positive, and who hails from Manipur, told us that he made unsafe contact with the truck driver,” Baisya said.
Of the three under-trial prisoners, the jail’s superintendent said they were drug addicts who used to share syringes with each other. “Two of the three under-trial prisoners have been sent to Silchar Medical College and Hospital,” Baisya said.
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Joint director of health services of Assam’s Cachar district, Ashutosh Barman, said that of the five HIV-infected prisoners, two are going through antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment at Silchar Medical College and Hospital.
“We have an AIDS control body that looks after the health issues of inmates. The team visits Silchar Central Jail every six months and conducts tests on the prisoners,” he said, adding that the five prisoners who tested HIV positive are being kept away from other inmates.
Social activist Tuhina Biswas who used to visit Silchar Central Jail in the past to check up on the state of the prisoners, claimed that the health infrastructure inside the jail is poor. “HIV patients need to stay isolated first, which is not possible inside Silchar Central Jail. I would advise the district administration to improve hygiene inside the jail.”
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