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More than 450 Mumbai cops HIV infected
January 08, 2004 16:33 IST
HIV infects nearly 450 men among the 40,000 strong Mumbai Police, a top police official said on Thursday.
"The figure is based on data collected since 1991 and the number of such cases could be more," Joint Commissioner of Police (administration) P K Jain said.
He said that since HIV testing is a voluntary effort, it was difficult to assess how many more people in the force carry the deadly virus.
"These figures have come from various sources and since 1991. Some of the HIV carriers may have turned full-blown cases and died," Jain added.
Sources within police force claim the rising figure of HIV cases in police was more to do with the lifestyle and susceptibility to prostitution than contraction of the virus through transfusion and surgeries.
Alarmed by increase in HIV cases within the force in particular and the growing threat of AIDS in the world in general, the city police has launched a massive education programme in association with the Mumbai District AIDS Prevention Society.
"We have established an AIDS testing centre at Nagpada, which will be opened in a week's time," Jain further said.
Jain said the Society and Mumbai Police have trained 800 officers and men so far in AIDS education, who in turn will spread the message of AIDS prevention in the respective units.
"These trained officers will target the families of policemen who face the risk of contracting the disease," he added.
Meanwhile, the People's Health Organisation, an NGO associated with health issues, has condemned the reported move by Mumbai Police to make HIV testing mandatory for its police force.
HIV testing should be voluntary and any compulsion would amount to discrimination and human rights violation of police personnel, PHO secretary general Dr I S Gilada said.
"The only practical and rewarding thing to mandate will be HIV-AIDS education, backed by voluntary counselling and testing to assure fullest confidentiality," Dr Gilada said.
More reports from Maharashtra
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