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Injecting drug users main reason for spread of HIV in NE: Union Health Minister

New Delhi: Union Health Minister JP Nadda today said injecting drug users continue to be the prime factor for the spread of HIV-AIDS in north-eastern region even as the government has increased medical facilities for testing and treatment of people living with the illness.

“Prevalence amongst IDUs (Injecting Drug User) continues to be high and we are confronted with Female Injecting Drug Users (FIDUs) also. Though there has been expansion in various preventive interventions resulting into increased coverage of facilities for treatment of people living with HIV,” the minister said.

He was speaking at the launch of Five-Year SUNRISE Project aimed at upscaling of HIV interventions in the north-east region with special focus on IDUs in 20 priority districts.

According to latest figures of NACO, HIV prevalence among adults in Manipur is to the extent of 1.1 per cent. Similarly, Nagaland is the only State in the country which has a prevalence of more than 1 per cent among the pregnant women.

“The levels of HIV prevalence have dropped. However, the data available at NACO, indicates that part of the North-East could not achieve the same kind of success, as has been recorded in other parts of the country,” Nadda said.

The project SUNRISE will be implemented over a period of five years costing Rs 70 crore.

The Center for Disease Control, a US government body is supporting this programme, which will adopt innovative strategies like increasing availability of safe needle, syringes in remote areas, community based testing for HIV and pilot studies on ‘take home’ policy for opioid substitution drugs.

He said the budget for the National AIDS Control Programme has been increased by 15 per cent during the current Financial Year.

The government has also decided to make it a Central Sector Scheme in which all the funds would be provided by the Center.

“The funds under the Programme would now be transferred directly by NACO to the State AIDS Control Societies. This is expected to improve the quality of implementation in the field, as resources would now be available to them timely,” the minister added.

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