Doorstep delivery of ART to PLHIV is no solution, says CoNE
CoNE demanded the Manipur government to fulfil basic requirements which are lacking at ART centres.
Updated on 3 Dec 2021, 9:35 pm
The Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE) views government's plan of doorstep delivery of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to people living with HIV-AIDS as no solution, and demanded the state government to fulfil the basic requirements which are lacking at the ART centres.
CoNE president RK Nalinikanta told mediapersons on Friday that despite Manipur being one of the states that has high number of People Living With HIV, and AIDS and Advanced HIV Disease (AHD), many testing facilities are yet to be made available at the ART centres and many life-saving drugs are still not provided by Manipur State AIDS Control Society.
He continued that the service for viral load testing which is considered as one of the most important testing for people who are on ART treatment to update their health status has not been launched yet in most of the centres.
Amid all these, the period of the contract that was signed by the state government with one of the diagnostic centres located outside the state for conducting viral load testing has ended. Besides, the machines to conduct CD4 Count testing, which is one of the important tests to initiate ART treatment, found in most hospitals have also become dysfunctional, he said.
“What is the point of providing ART therapy service when two most important testing services are not available? Just providing medication blindly may create another health hazard,” he said. As per World Health Organisation, 35 per cent of total population of PLHIV in India are Advanced HIV Disease infected persons, he added.
As Manipur is among the states hit hard by HIV/AIDS, the state government should provide these facilities. Besides, the state government should also avail testing facilities for Cryptococcal Meningitis and Lateral Flow Urine Lipoarabinomannan Assay (LF-LAM) testing service, he further said.
Nalinikanta appealed to MACS to provide life-saving drugs required by AHD or enlist those medicines among the essential medicines so that they can be availed through the National Health Mission.
Amid the absence of many services, the state government announcing plans to launch doorstep ART delivery services is very unfortunate, he added.
He said that stigma and discrimination is the root cause behind hindering initiation of ART treatment services. Providing ART at doorstep would not solve that issue. It would rather lead to breaking the confidentiality of the patient. Therefore, the state government should conduct a round of meeting to discuss its pros and cons before the implementation, he added.
The state government should empower the ombudsmen appointed recently according to HIV/AIDS Act to address the problem of stigma and discrimination faced by PLHIV while accessing ART treatment from the service centres, he said.