The National Aids Control Organisation held a meet on enhancing partnership between law enforcement agencies and civil societies organisation for HIV prevention and control at a city hotel on Friday.
The meet was attended by over 80 representatives, including officers of the National AIDS Control Organisation, the department of home affairs, law enforcement agencies including the Narcotics Control Bureau and Police, civil society organisations and State AIDS Control Societies of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
Navreet Singh Kang, additional secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, said the HIV prevalence among injecting drug users in Punjab was as high as 21.10%, which is higher than the national prevalence among IDUs.
Similarly, Chandigarh (7.20%) has also reported slightly higher than national average. He stated the harm reduction services for IDUs which advocates for needle and syringe exchange programme (NSP) and opioid substitution treatment (OST) were being implemented by the respective state AIDS control societies (SACS) in these states and the same needs to be strengthened and expanded so that every drug user can be reached.
For this, he said, “It is very important that state AIDS control societies and law enforcement agencies work in close collaboration so that maximum people can be reached and be benefitted from the harm reduction strategy.”
Jagpal Singh Sandhu, additional chief secretary (home), Punjab, lauded the role of health department in containing the HIV epidemic in the state.
He said the role of police should not be restricted to the punitive aspect only, but it should also play an active role in the rehabilitation of the drug users.
Hussan Lal, Secretary Health & Medical Education cum Project Director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society spoke regarding various initiatives being taken by Punjab state to curtail the transmission of HIV, especially in the injecting drugs users.