In Delhi’s night shelters, a silent initiative to identify, help HIV patients
To identify HIV positive occupants at the night shelters in central Delhi, the district administration has initiated an awareness drive in collaboration with the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).
Counselling sessions are being organised at the shelters in which the occupants are convinced to undergo tests and if found positive, they will be taken for treatment.
This initiative is being coordinated by District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).
Pravesh Ranjan Jha, additional district magistrate, Central District, said the exercise has started yielding results as 32 cases have been referred to Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) for HIV counselling and testing. At least 20 homeless have already undergone screening for HIV. The results are awaited.
“It will take time to ascertain how many of them have been found HIV infected,” said the official.
The drive was started two weeks ago and 12 sessions have been held so far in which over 400 homeless persons were counselled. There are 58 night shelters in the district. The official added if one is found HIV infected, free medicines are made available to them.
The district covers ISBT Kashmere Gate, Daryaganj, old Delhi Railway Station, Sadar Bazaar, Karol Bagh, Rajinder Palace, Yamuna Pushta and Shastri Nagar area.
The homeless staying in shelters are prone to having unsafe sex. The drug addicts among them often use infected syringes.
“We are trying to create awareness through write-ups, graphics and picture, which are easy to understand as most of them are not educated,” Jha said.
“Majority of them use the same syringe to inject drugs multiple times. We refer to Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre’s located in the district without Out Patient Department slips. This is helpful because they don’t have any identity proof. Apart from free medicines and treatment, they are given monthly financial grant of ₹1,000 as per the rule,” he added.