Burma bordering Indian states face drug abuse and HIV

Narinjara News

Narinjara Correspondent,
Northeast India

Burma bordering all Northeast Indian states are running under the menace of drug abuse consequential HIV infection and AIDS. Disclosed by the Indian Health Minister of India, Anbumani Ramadoss recently, the pathetic tale describes Manipur and Nagaland are among the 'high HIV/AIDS prevalence' states, where as Arunachal Pradesh and Mizroam are termed 'vulnerable' to the threat of HIV infection and AIDS.

Manipur is reported to have the highest density of HIV infected persons in the country resulting another major challenge to the tiny state after prolonged insurgency. The Manipur AIDS Control Society statistics reveal that the state has around 16,000 HIV positive people, where over 2000 victims have gained AIDS. Till 2005, over 350 people died of AIDS in the state.

"But there is a distinct difference in the pattern of infection. While in 86 per cent of the cases of HIV infection in other parts of India, the transmission route is sexual, in Manipur, about 72 per cent of the cases originate from the sharing of needles and syringes by injecting drug users," said an activist of Kripa Foundation, a leading anti-addiction centre in Manipur.

The availability of heroin, primarily from Burma (with Thailand and Laos) and other illicit drugs are responsible for high addiction rate in Manipur. Estimated drug addicts in the state are increasing up to 50,000, where 20,000 have been reported to be injecting drug users.

The drugs like spasoproxybone, ganja, alcohol, phensedyle, opium, cough syrup, nitrazepam, detroproxythene and buprenorphine are used by the addicts. The young one normally starts taking drug orally and later shifts to injection with needles, which are shared by many at a time that helps spreading HIV among the users.

"The absence of an institutionalized intelligence framework within the police forces of the affected states like Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam to tackle the well-coordinated narcotics trafficking into the region from the Golden Triangle has been a boon for the thriving racket," said a retired custom officer in Guwahati. He also added that the frustrated youths of the region are vulnerable for HIV infection and AIDS through the illegal drug consumption. If Manipur is identified as a high-incidence zone for AIDS, Mizoram has received newspaper headlines for wrong reason for loosing over 940 youths to drug abuse since 1984.

The sleepy villages in the hilly terrain of Mizoram are witnessing rampant drug use that spreading the menace of HIV/AIDS. The official figures confirm that over 1000 habitants are infected to HIV. However, the real number will be far more that the statistics. More that two percent pregnant women in Mizoram is found HIV positive. "If the trend goes on like this, there is going to be a big bang very soon," commented by an adviser to the Mizoram State AIDS Control Society.

Though India and Burma decided to share intelligence relating to drug trafficking through the porous border, it has yet to yield the expected result. The ongoing socio-political turmoil in the Northeast and almost lawlessness in Northern Burma under the State Peace and Development Council rule, have paved way for the drug peddlers to make the trafficking on the rise in this troubled zone. The Narcotics Control Bureau, the apex coordinating agency for collecting and analyzing data related to seizures of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance, dissemination of intelligence and work in close cooperation with the Customs, State Police and other law enforcement agencies also fall short to meet the challenge due to lack of manpower to control the widespread narcotics trade in this conflict zone, which is home to over 40 insurgent outfits. #