In city jails,treatment for HIV prisoners and Walt Disney for kids

The state’s first link anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre for prisoners will begin in a week at Arthur Road Jail,thus making it easy for inmates detected with HIV to get treatment.

Written by Jinal Shah | Mumbai | Published: February 19, 2010 12:10:46 am

Arthur road: In a week,state’s first antiretroviral centre for prisoners


The state’s first link anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre for prisoners will begin in a week at Arthur Road Jail,thus making it easy for inmates detected with HIV to get treatment. These inmates are now being sent to JJ Hospital for treatment.

There are 21 inmates in Arthur Road Jail and one in Byculla Women’s Jail who have been tested HIV-positive. They have been put on ART at JJ Hospital after preliminary tests.

The Mumbai District AIDS Control Society,which conducts test and counselling for patients,will launch the ART centre. The society had,in August last year,set up integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTCs) in both the jails.

The Bombay High Court had,in January 2009,directed the state to conduct voluntary counselling and HIV testing for 7,000 inmates of four central prisons at Thane,Yerwada,Nashik and Amravati. A panel was also constituted to study the test results of inmates and submit recommendations.

The court had taken up the issue in 2008 during the hearing of a bail plea from an HIV-positive prisoner serving life sentence in Pune’s Yerwada Jail. It was pointed out 32 HIV-positive jail inmates had died in five years (2001-2006),allegedly owing to lack of proper treatment.

According to data available,around 825 inmates were counselled at the Arthur Road Jail ICTC and 823 tested for HIV. Of them,41 had tested positive. As many as 375 inmates were counselled at the Byculla Jail ICTC; 258 tested for HIV and 14 tested positive. “The link ART centre will be attached to JJ Hospital. This will help increase adherence to treatment as there will not be any miss in dosage due to lack of guards to accompany the inmates every month,” said Dr Harish Pathak,additional project director,MDACS.

Arthur Road Jail superintendent Rajendra Dhamne promised all help for the project. “Shifting the inmates to JJ Hospital for specialised treatment could prove fatal. It can now be done in the prison.”

Dr Pathak said,“We have trained jail doctors to detect signs and symptoms of opportunistic infections,like tuberculosis,among HIV-positive inmates.”

Byculla Jail,however,will not be linked. “It is practically impossible to start a link ART centre for just one HIV positive inmate. She will continue with JJ Hospital,” he said.

BYCULLA: Disney renovates nursery for children of imprisoned mothers

Mustafa Plumber

Dependent on their mothers,scores of young children live with them in the Byculla prison,their stay brightened by an initiative by Walt Disney Company (India) Pvt Ltd.

The company has stepped in to help renovate the prison’s small ‘balwadi’ (nursery) and play area,which till recently was in poor condition,prison authorities said. Company sources declined to comment on the initiative.

Some 40 children use the play school. The company has set up new slides and swings next to the area where the children attend pre-primary classes.

“This is a very good initiative. The children stay in the prison as they are dependent on their mothers but we ensure they are never made to feel like they are in one,” jail superintendent Sudhir Kingre said.

Every morning,between 10 and 12,they step out from their cells,clad in uniforms provided by the prison department,and walk in pairs to the nursery. Two full-time teachers from NGO Seva Niketan give them lessons in Hindi and Marathi. After school,the children play on the premises to show that their freedom is not curtailed.

The play area was redone at Disney’s initiative. “The company approached us in December asking about the facilities on our premises. After finding the project feasible the company agreed to do up the nursery and play area. We have given the garden area for one month to the company for maintenance,” said deputy inspector general (prisons) Rajneesh Sheth.

Kingre said the company has given soft toys,books,and play school equipment. “It is having an effect not only on the children but also on their mothers who are lodged in prison for petty offences and who might not have been able to provide quality education.”

Most of the children are Bangladeshi,their mothers arrested under the Foreigners Act and waiting deportation. Under prison rules,a child aged up to six can stay with with his or her mother. Kingre says,“They rarely stay that long; the sentences end earlier.”

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