Provide report on HIV in jails by Nov 10, HC tells state

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) to submit a report on the prevalence of HIV in jails in the state, especially the ones at Amravati and Yerwada. A division bench of Justice F I Rebello and Justice Ashutosh Kumbhakoni gave MSACS time till November 10 to submit the report.

The report will comprise details of the number of prisoners who have tested positive for HIV, the figures of inmates who require HIV anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and those who are undergoing the ART treatment. MSACS has also been asked to list the infrastructure required at the jails for counselling, testing and giving treatment to prisoners as well as the time that would be needed to upgrade the facilities.

The issue first came to light when the high court was hearing a bail application filed by a HIV-positive prisoner serving a life sentence in Punes Yerwada jail. The court was informed that there were around 32 HIV positive convicts who had died in Yerwada jail between 2001 and 2006. Expressing concern at the statistics, the high court appointed advocates Anand Grover and Yug Choudhary as amicus cuirae (friends of the court) to assist the judges in dealing with the issue.

Shibu Thomas, for TNN

Public prosecutor Satish Borulkar informed the court that the state government had initiated two pilot projects for AIDS awareness in the two central prisons at Yerwada and Amravati. Advocate Grover, however, contended that this was not enough.

There are no figures as to the exact numbers of HIV positive prisoners languishing in prisons. However, health activists say they constitute a high risk group.

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