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Homearrow News and Events Year 2010 Making prisoners aware of HIV - Express Buzz

Making prisoners aware of HIV - Express Buzz

HYDERABAD: A new initiative undertaken by the Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) for the prisoners of the State seems to be yielding the desired results as a large number of inmates have already been covered within just 8 months of the launch of the programme.

Named `Raksha’, the first-ofits- kind intiative in the country has been undertaken by APSACS in collaboration with the prisons department of the State to create awareness in prisonerss about HIV/AIDS but also provide counselling, testing and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases.

According to the Chandravadan, Project Director of APSACS, one of the main reasons for launchingthe initiative was the high number of unconfirmed deaths in prison. ``We come across deaths in the prison without any apparent reason and it may be caused due to multiorgan failure which is usually seen in the case of AIDS. These incidents made us to concentrate on prisons and identify the requirement of such a programme,’’ he said.

Under this programme, Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres have been set up in the central jails of Hyderabad, Cherlapally, Warangal, Rajahmundry, Visakapatnam, Kadapa and Nellore.

So far 40,611 prisoners have been provided with information on this dreadful disease, and 1,700 prisoners were tested. Of them, 194 tested positive for AIDS.

``We are providing nutritious food to all these 194 inmates, of whom 174 are on anti-retroviral treatment. Eleven anti-natal clinic cases have also been identified.

They are provided with women counsellors. Also, the fellow prisoners and the affected families members are counselled on dealing with the situation.’’ It is not just the inmates but also the prison staff who are involved in the initiative in a big way. Nearly 780 prison staffers underwent training as HIV/AIDS is incorporated in their training module.

Seventeen counsellors and 13 doctors are already in charge at various jails.

With an aim to convert most of the prisoners in to peer educators, the officials of this intitiative are planning to continue the programme with more expansion and vigour.

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