70% HIV+ inmates in Kapurthala jail below age of 35
As many as 123 at the Kapurthala Modern Jail have tested positive for the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus ) in the past 15 months.
A majority of those found to be affected — 88 or roughly 70% of the total — are between 20 to 35 years of age. These numbers were revealed after screenings by the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC). The jail at present has 2,900 inmates.
Data obtained from the jail authorities revealed of the total 123, 12 inmates are aged between 20-25 years, 42 between 25-30 years and 34 between 30-35 years.
“The numbers reveal that rampant drug abuse is the main reason for the high HIV infection among inmates,” jail’s hospital in-charge Abhishek Gill said. Over 80% HIV-positive inmates were found to be drug addicts who not only use injections but have also shared syringes at least once in their life.
Currently, 66 HIV-positive inmates are undergoing treatment at antiretroviral therapy (ART) centre at the Jalandhar civil hospital. A total of 350 inmates from the Kapurthala jail have tested positive for the HIV in the past four-and-a-half years.
Sources in the jail revealed that most prisoners did not know about their HIV status and came to know about the condition only after their screening by the ICTC in jail.
Meanwhile, 52 jail inmates have died of various ailments in the last two-and-a-half years. Till March 2017, 10 inmates were reported to have died in the jail premises.
50% DRUG ADDICTS BELOW 30
Also, 227 inmates are currently undergoing treatment at the jail’s drug rehabilitation centre.
Sources said over 50% of these addicts are below the age of 30. Out of them, five are women.
Jail superintendent Kulwinder Singh Thiara said: “HIV screening is mandatory for every new prisoner in the jail. We send groups of HIV-positive inmates for treatment to the ART centre every week.”