In violation of the specified guidelines and human rights, HIV-positive prisoners have been lodged separately at the Kapurthala Central Jail, one of the largest prisons in the state with a capacity of more than 4,000 inmates.
Not only this, the number of HIV infected inmates has witnessed a threefold increase at the jail in the past three years.
While there were only seven HIV positive inmates in 2012 at the jail, the number increased to 38 till June 20 this year.
Health department officials on condition of anonymity said a team of two counsellors and a lab technician from the integrated counselling and testing centre in Jalandhar and Kapurthala had gone to conduct a routine check up at the jail recently.
Surprisingly, no prisoner came forward for the test fearing they would be lodged in a separate cell in the jail and discriminated against if found HIV positive, the officials maintained.
The National AIDS Control Organisation guidelines prohibit any kind of discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients in matters of employment, education, healthcare, travel, insurance, residence and property etc.
Hussan Lal, project director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society and managing director, Punjab Health Systems Corporation, said, “If HIVpositive inmates are being kept in separate cells in the jail, it is in violation of their rights. Such discrimination should not have happened.”
“I will write to the home department to take action in this regard soon so that HIV-positive inmates are not discriminated against and they get timely treatment at ART clinics,” the project director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society, added.
Jails minister Sohan Singh Thandal said, “I am unaware of the matter and would seek a report from the jail authorities as why HIV-affected inmates are being kept in separate cells.”
HT had filed an application with the superintendent, Kapurthala Central Jail, under the Right to Information to seek information in this connection.