Anantapur: Drugs shortage hits HIV patients at ART centres

Anantapur: Drugs shortage hits HIV patients at ART centres
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HIV/AIDS victims numbering about 30,000 in the district are urging the state government to intervene to save themselves from deterioration of their health condition.

Anantapur: HIV/AIDS victims numbering about 30,000 in the district are urging the state government to intervene to save themselves from deterioration of their health condition. The patients, who come from far off places to Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ART) centres are disappointed as the drugs are not available at the centres. The district has three ART centres, Kadiri, Battalapalle and Anantapur, where thousands of victims throng to collect their monthly medicines. For more than 4 months, patients are being turned off landing the fragile patients in tears and disappointment.

The National Aids Control Organisation(NACO) sends the budget to states and the state government in turn passes it on to AP Aids Control Society(APSACS). APSACS is supposed to procure drugs and supply the same to ART centres but the former instead of procuring and supplying medicines to the centres is merely passing on the budget to districts Aids Control Society.

The problem is there are no HIV drug manufacturing companies in the state except in Chittoor. The companies that manufacture drugs on a larger scale are in Delhi and Mumbai. Those working on AIDS control and the patients feel that the NACO should procure medicines at the Delhi level and send the drugs to states and districts instead of merely passing on the budget. When the drugs are available in Delhi, there is no point in merely sending funds and making patients suffer for non-availability of drugs, says Veeranjaneyulu, president of Anantha Network of Positives, an NGO working for HIV/AIDS victims in the district. As the problem is frequently cropping up, the state should intervene and see that at least APSACS take the responsibility of procurement of drugs and supply the same to ART centres. Speaking to The Hans India, Veeranjaneyulu said the government hospital faces shortage of ART medicines.

The patients have to take medicines regularly failing which there will be loss of resistance and decline of immunity levels, he pointed out. In case of medicines shortage, the drugs to be procured from private sources with the hospital development fund. Added to the equipment and drugs shortage issues, even the doctors are minimal in number. The ART centre in the town is supposed to be manned by three doctors but they are functioning with a single doctor. Similarly, the situation in Kadiri and Anantapur ART centres is that house surgeons are treating the patients against norms. There is a demand to establish a second line ART centre in the medical college as victims are compelled to go to Kadapa and Osmania Hospital in Hyderabad.

The victims are pleading for a separate nutritional project exclusively for children of AIDS victims and otherwise the HIV-infected children are traumatised by others. Veeranjaneyulu further says that the ART centre needs a separate dialysis unit for kidney patients and added some government doctors were reluctant to treat HIV victims and referring them to RDT Hospital. Even deliveries of HIV-infected women are being referred to RDT Hospital. He said the foster care support of Rs 500 given to child has to be increased to Rs 2,500 to enable them to meet their education and personal needs. Presently, 60 children are receiving Rs 500. All the children should be covered under the programme. The HIV victims are deprived of RTC free passes after completion of one-year treatment and also demand conversion of white ration cards into Antiyodaya ration cards to enable them to enjoy the benefits.

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