13 April, 2021

Fixing An Epidemic

In an unusual attempt to curb the spread of AIDS, drug addicts are doled out syringes and needles

Fixing An Epidemic
It's 8 am and Mangcha gathers the stuff and works to fix his 'breakfast'. His works comprise a brand new disposable syringe and hypodermic needle and the stuff is H4, the purestBurmese heroin, which he fixes in his upper left arm with expert ease. The dose will see the 22-year-old bootlegger-cum-illegal lottery seller through till noon, when he will fix again, this time with friends, before setting off in search of a daily wage of anything between Rs 50 and Rs 200 to help buy the next day's fix and, hopefully, some foodfor his wife and one-year-old baby.

In another part of Churachandpur town, a still groggy-eyed S. Benjamin attends to a group of Manipuri tribal youth who have called at his house. A theologian by training, he patiently gathers their used syringes and needles and replaces them with fresh ones, free of cost. After an early brunch, he rushes to his office where a larger group is waiting to exchange their works. During the day, among other things, Benjamin goes about distributing fresh works to addicts at designated street corners at specified times and even...

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