Hyderabad: Use of narcotics like heroin and pharmaceutical drugs containing opioids are apparently not very uncommon in the Telugu states. Reports from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh suggest high prevalence of drug usage, posing threat of an HIV outbreak. Telangana stands at number five, trailing behind Andhra Pradesh at fourth in the entire country with regard to using heroin and opioid pharmaceutical drugs. What is worse is that several persons make use of needles to inject these drugs into their bodies increasing the chances of them catching HIV.
As per the national survey underlying the extent of substance abuse in India prepared by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NTDDC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), at least 64,000 people from Telangana, who resort to unhygienic usage of syringes, require assistance. It also reveals that a total of 8.5 lakh people use heroin and opioid.
The need to address precarious usage of syringes is imperative primarily because it poses the threat of an HIV outbreak like in the north-eastern states of the country.
“More the number of people injecting drugs, more the chances of an HIV outbreak. Previously, the states that saw high usage of drug intake through injections failed to act on it. And as a result, HIV infections speard like wildfire. It started with Manipur and Nagaland and spread to Delhi and Punjab,” observed Atul Ambekar, principal researcher and professor of psychiatry at AIIMS.
He added that there was a sizable population in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana using drugs via injections. It was high time that the government took necessary action against this, he said.The study was carried out between December 2017 and October 2018. A total of 2,00,111 households were surveyed in 186 districts and around 4,73,569 individuals across the country were interviewed. A respondent-driven survey was also conducted with 72,642 individuals.
As per the study, the current prevalence of heroin and opioid use is 2 per cent and their dependence is 0.26 per cent. Opioid dependence and abuse are 0.54 per cent, just a little below the national average of 0.55 per cent.
Meanwhile, Assistant Excise Superintendent N Anji Reddy, said, “The State does not have as much prevalence of heroin use as indicated in the study. Data on users need to be collected for further regulation.”