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HIV testing issue rages
Published on 8 Jun. 2010 1:31 AM IST
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Controversy arising out of Project Orchid’s proposed “100 % HIV mandatory testing” Monday appeared to mount with organisations associated with drug users expressing their resentment over the issue.
Acknowledging that early diagnosis of HIV status and access to treatment were critical factors for HIV prevention, care and support, the Network of Nagaland Drugs and AIDS Organization (NNagaDAO) president A. Khriebu Nakhro, in a press statement, however, said forcing a person for HIV test, directly or indirectly, was a violation of basic human rights.
Also, taking a dig at NSACS appointed counselors and lab technicians for being “irregular” in attending to their duties, the N Naga DAO said NGOs face problems at the “grassroots” in referring the drug users to the Integrated Counseling and Testing Centres (ICTCs) for HIV testing.
“The work ethics of the counselors at some of these centres are also questionable,” the N Naga DAO said.
Meanwhile, concerned over the impasse, the N-NagaDAO said it would convene a joint meeting with NEIDUF, NNP+, NUN, Project ORCHID and NSACS at the earliest to have an open and honest discussion and resolve these critical issues.
In another press statement, a drug users’ self help group –Blessed Redeemer president Khrio-o expressed resentment over Project Orchid’s purported e-mail dated May 11, wherein, it stated “100 % HIV mandatory testing for the drug users.”
While appreciating Project Orchid for their “yeomen services” rendered to drug using community especially to Blessed Redeemer, the group president Khrio-o said that sadly their (Project Orchid) too much concern without “far sighted vision” has deeply hurt the sentiments of larger drug using community. The SHG also stated that project orchid overruled existing National drug policy and NACO guidelines of voluntarily HIV testing. The SHG also questioned that how could a “reputed agency” like Project ORCHID be “so ignorant and narrow-minded” and impose such policy of “100 % HIV mandatory testing” on drug users just to achieve their objectives without discerning the larger issues that confront the HIV testing.
They were of the views that even without mandatory testing and assurance of total confidentiality many of “our communities” did not want to come out and avail opportunities that were being provided by NGOs because of stigma and discrimination.
The SHG observed that if 100% mandatory HIV testing was implemented even current drug users availing services might go into hiding.
Meanwhile, requesting project orchid to make 100 % mandatory for eradication of stigma and discrimination instead of 100% mandatory HIV testing, the SHG assured that drug users’ community would come out “voluntarily and happily in full strength for HIV testing.”

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