U.N. Launches Programs in Three Indian Prisons to Prevent Spread of HIV Among Inmates
July 11, 2007
The United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime has launched programs in three Indian prisons that aim to prevent the spread of HIV among inmates, the Press Trust of India reports. According to Jaidev Sarangi, a prison expert with UNODC, the United Nations in collaboration with state governments and civil societies has launched programs in Tihar jail in New Delhi, Arthur Road jail in Mumbai and Amritsar Central jail in Punjab.
There are 14,126 inmates in Tihar, 2,000 in Arthur Road and 2,000 in Amritsar, the Press Trust of India reports. According to a study conducted by India's Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and UNODC, about 10% of the inmate population in Tihar was found to be using drugs. Sunil Kumar Gupta, a law officer at the prison, said that there are 38 inmates at the prison who are HIV-positive.
"The basic purpose is to address the twin problems of drugs and HIV in prisons," Sarangi said. He added, "So, our strategy is to prepare the inmates to face the challenges of drug abuse and HIV in jails and also after their release." According to Sarangi, the programs will provide prison staff and inmates with HIV/AIDS education by engaging them in workshops. "We try to increase their knowledge and awareness about drugs and HIV in priso[n] settings," he said, adding that the "next step is the enhancement of life skills to enable prisoners to cope with day-to-day challenges in an out of prisons."
According to Sarangi, similar programs have been launched in prisons in Sri Lanka and Nepal. R. Gunashekar, project officer for UNODC, said that the "next step is to [establish similar programs] in one jail in each state and Union Territories in the country" (Press Trust of India, 7/10).
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