A Program called 'Safe Needle Exchange Program' has been initiated by Health Ministry inorder to curb the increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS among the drug users in the city. While speaking to the reporters at the third international inter-faith conference, Anbumani Ramadoss, Union minister said that the virus is more likely to contract through the educated youth who are prone to drug use.
Mr. Anbumani added that the "Incidence of HIV/AIDS through drug abuse was usually high in North Eastern states. But it has slowly spread to Punjab and now was seen raising its ugly hood in Chennai too,"
A Recent study shows that more than 600 million youth of the country were equally at risk comparing to the high-risk categories like truck drivers, MSMs and commercial sex workers and of the total estimated number of HIV positives, which was around 5 million, around 57 per cent belonged to the rural areas and 40% of them were women.
The Health Ministry along with the Home Ministry is now working out the legal issues of providing safe needles to drug users. The Ministry has also planned on introducing a law against discrimination of HIV positives in the Parliament during the next budget session and also any discrimination against the HIV infected, at the work place, educational institutions and treatment centres, would not be tolerated and dealt with an iron hand. - Anbumani said.
The policy of the Health Ministry has shifted from "abstinence" to "condom promotion" and "Over 1,00,000 condom vending machines would be set up in toilets, petrol pumps, dhabas and other such places for promoting the use of condoms among the public," - He added.
While acknowledging the role of organisations, Mr. Anbumani said that a community-based approach to tackle the issue is required and the current challenge is on solving the issue of 'converting awareness to a structured behavioural change'