HIV intervention in Rajasthan prisons: RSACS, prisons department sign MoU
Rajasthan has total 127 prisons and other closed settings.
The Rajasthan State AIDS Control Society (RSACS) and Rajasthan prisons headquarters signed an agreement to launch HIV intervention in prisons and other closed settings in the state on Tuesday.
Independent studies carried out by national and international agencies, including United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and World Health Organisation, show that the prevalence of HIV and other blood-borne viruses amongst people living in prisons and other prison settings is higher than the general population.
Rajasthan has total 127 prisons and other closed settings, including 10 central jails, three reformatories, 25 district jails, 60 sub-jails and 29 open camps. The capacity of these prisons is 32,327 and current occupancy is 32,787.
Additional secretary and director general, National AIDS Control programme, Government of India Sanjeev Kumar said HIV testing is on in prisons for last few years, but not in a planned manner. “There was no information of data outcome. By signing this memorandum, things will now get systematic,” he said, adding the implementation of the operational understanding and working agreement will be done in a planned manner in all Rajasthan prisons.
On behalf of the health department, RSACS project director Dr SS Chauhan and director general of Prisons Bhupendra Singh signed the MoU.
Additional chief secretary health Veenu Gupta said RSACS has been working in close coordination with state prisons department for implementing HIV interventions in prisons. The prison HIV intervention joint action plan developed between the two will help scale up the intervention process.
DG Prisons Bhupendra Singh said services are already being provided by the health department, but through this agreement, the services will be further integrated, coordinated and utilised in a better manner. There is a shortage of challani guards to take jail inmates outside to hospital or other places. The challani guards are provided by the police department. Efforts would be made to bring health services near the jail so that jail inmates get proper health facilities, he added.
According to Dr Chauhan, there are around 100 jail inmates who are on antiretroviral treatment.
Rajasthan at present has 66,000 people identified as HIV positive and are undergoing treatment. AIDS prevalence rate at the national level is 0.27%, while in Rajasthan it is 0.17%, which is less than the national level.