At least 8 youngsters in Punjab have contracted AIDS after a group of 16 used the same needle to do substance abuse. This has now revealed 16 such cases of AIDS and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) caused by usage of the same needle.
Sangrur SDM Abhishek Gupta told India Today TV that 7-8 cases were found positive and reports of a few others are still awaited. Locals said that the number of AIDS patients could be even more as addicts of nearby villages were also using intravenous drugs.
“My cousin has been using drugs and was a school dropout. He started stealing valuables from home to buy the drugs. We did not hide his case as it was an eye opener. It is because of our courage that other cases also came to light,” said the sister of one such victim.
Fearing social boycott, families of several other victims refused to talk. The local administration also remained tight-lipped about the number of cases and was tried to hush-up the matter.
Local police hurriedly registered 17 cases against the peddlers after AIDS and HCV cases came to light. The district administration also started spreading awareness against drugs after these cases came to light.
“This is a failure of the police and local administration. The victims said that police did not let them go even after taking money. This is shameful,” said Harish Kumar Malhotra, a retired warrant officer.
The Sangrur district administration is in the dock with these cases becoming public. Officials were seen tracing the drug addicts and packing them off in ambulances. Some of them have been sent to a rehabilitation centre.
The revelation of AIDS and HCV cases has angered locals who blamed police for the widespread use of drugs in the area. Local said the incidents have disgraced the entire Badrukhan village.
Family members of victims said the boys contracted AIDS by using the untreated syringes thrown out by local hospitals.
Two years into the government, CM Capt Amarinder Singh has failed to control the drug menace. Singh had promised that he will break the supply chain of narcotics within a period of four weeks.
Not just narcotics, Punjab youths are now facing the threat of AIDS and HCV too.
More than 6,000 people have died of AIDS in the past 11 years in Punjab. 460 new cases were registered in 2017. 67 drug addicts died of drug overdose in the state between 2017 and 2019.