Punjab, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar have become the new hot spots of injecting drug use. The practice was earlier largely confined to the north eastern states of Manipur and Nagaland, an expert said Friday.
"Injecting drug use is no longer confined to the north eastern states of Manipur and Nagaland. We have hot spots of drug use in states like Punjab, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar," Lov Verma, secretary, department of AIDS Control, said at a workshop here.
The workshop is being organised by the Emmanuel Hospital Association to share harm reduction initiatives and experiences among People who Inject Drugs (PWID).
The workshop coincides with the International Drug Users' Day, observed November 1 each year.
HIV among injecting drug users remains a great challenge in the northeast, with Manipur still having the highest HIV prevalence among PWID, a release issued on the occasion said.
There are similar challenges emerging in other states, Verma said.
Relapse into drug use is more common among women. "Once the line is crossed (for women using drugs) they are not accepted in society, even when they no longer do drugs. Reintegration is easier in case of the male drug user. That is why there is low motivation among women to give up drugs", Puii, director of Shalom, an NGO in Manipur, said.
Representing the Indian Drug Users' Forum (IDUF), Abou Mere urged the government to involve the community and not look at drug users as a problem. He also said that the government and other stakeholders should look into the issue of drug overdose and Hepatitis-C, which cause avoidable deaths every year.