Drug users in India who are also infected with HIV are not able to use the healthcare services due to fear of police and stringent laws.
Experts have urged the government to reach out to the community and safeguard their rights. Abou Mere, president, Indian Drug Users' Forum and a leading activist, said, "Drug users are dying due to lack of treatment and care for Hepatitis C and overdose. Families are burdened with expensive de-addiction and rehabilitation options."
Out of 16 million inject drugs users across the globe, three million are infected with HIV. In India, HIV infection in this group is 24-times that of the general population.
The Indian society still discriminates against drug users, preventing them from accessing medical facilities and leading to their possibility of early death.
As per a study conducted by the India HIV/AIDS Alliance (Alliance India) in Bihar, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, as many as 50 percent drug users interviewed in the four states said they feared police action which stopped them from accessing health and HIV services. Similar studies have shown that drug users have criminal and suicidal tendencies.
Oscar Fernandes, convener, forum of parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS, said, "Enhanced collaboration between government, civil society and affected communities can ensure rights and health for people who use drugs, and we are committed for it."
Over 1.1 million people are HIV infected in the United States and almost one in six of them are unaware of their infection. It is estimated that 34 million people across the globe have HIV and over 35 million people have died due to it.