Assam Health Minister Keshab Mahanta on February 9 said that the state has registered an increase in the number of HIV-AIDS cases, with injecting of drugs being the main cause.
He affirmed in the Assembly that the government, with help from NGOs, has been working with HIV-positive persons.
However, the details were not disclosed to maintain the anonymity of the patients.
Congress MLA Sibamoni Bora raised the matter of the prevalence of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) patients in the state during Question Hour, claiming that there has been a spike in fresh infections.
She claimed that around 50 per cent of the drug peddlers are themselves infected.
Ms. Bora alleged that the government has been less focused on spreading awareness of HIV since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Mahanta, in his reply, said that 31,729 HIV-AIDS cases were detected in the state from 89,84,519 tests conducted between 2002 and 2023.
“In 2023, till December, 9,90,372 tests were conducted, of which 5,791 were found positive. Yes, there has been an increase and we are working to check it,” he added.
The Minister said the government was working in close coordination with NGOs also, especially in providing care to infected people, and creating awareness among vulnerable sections.
“But we cannot specify the work being done, we can only give you figures,” he added, indicating the need to maintain confidentially in dealing with HIV-AIDS cases.
He said transmission of the virus through injecting drugs accounts for the highest number of new cases currently.
“The State government has already launched a drive against illegal drugs. But we have more to achieve to stop it altogether,” he said.
Mr. Mahanta maintained that the state’s position as a transit point for the rest of the Northeast also makes its populace more vulnerable, while treatment of patients from other states in Assam further leads to an increase in the state’s overall tally.
He said the State government has been providing all facilities for testing, counselling and treatment at different government-run and other health centres as well as in vulnerable places such as prisons.
BJP legislator Rupak Sharma, also participating in the discussion, maintained that the number of HIV-AIDS cases in the state could record a further increase if more tests are conducted.