Monday, 28 September 2009

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Second-line treatment hurdles

Access to the government’s anti-retroviral therapy (ART) programme depends on where you live, and more so for second-line treatment. ART is the most effective medication for HIV discovered so far and is provided at two levels.

However, if you develop resistance to first-line drugs provided in a government ART centre in one state, and there is no second-line ART in that state, you are not entitled to approach centres in other states. Though the government is supposed to set up second-line centres in all states, it has not met that commitment. 

The Supreme Court has taken a progressive stand on the matter, and directed the LNJP hospital in Delhi to provide free second-line treatment to a man from Bihar where the treatment is not available. The man went to Mumbai but was refused treatment there before trying Delhi. The government indicated that the court’s orders should not be treated as a general guideline. (Source: SAATHII) 

Even when treatment is available, rude behaviour of the staff sometimes discourages people from seeking treatment. In Pune, Vinay Kulkarni of Prayas, a health NGO, reports that a person who approached the Pune ART centre for second-line treatment was so humiliated by the doctors that he refused to go back to the government centre. (Source: AIDS-INDIA) 

Food is medicine 

People with HIV need extra nutrition to improve their immunity and also to tolerate their medications. So it’s great to hear of any effort to increase people’s access to food.  

Abraham Mutluri of VMM-CHAHA, an NGO in Andhra Pradesh writes that they are encouraging people to start kitchen gardens, providing seeds and other support. And in Bangalore, organisations are asking for nutrition to be on the political agenda in the Lok Sabha elections. The Bangalore HIV and AIDS Forum is campaigning for nutritional supplements to be provided for people taking ART. (Source:AIDS-INDIA) 

Asian migrant women at risk 

Women from Asia migrating to the Arab states for work are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection.  

According to the findings of a UNAIDS report, ‘HIV Vulnerabilities of Migrant Women: from Asia to the Arab States’, 80% of migrants from Sri Lanka and the Philippines to the Arab states are women. The report describes the toll that migration takes on emigrating women, particularly low-skilled ones who are lured by better job prospects.  

"Although migration itself is not a risk factor to HIV infection, the conditions under which some workers migrate and their living conditions in the host countries make them highly vulnerable to HIV," says JVR Prasada Rao, regional director of UNAIDS in Asia and the Pacific. "In many cases, HIV testing in both, countries of origin and host countries, breaches migrants' rights – testing is undertaken without consent, counselling, confidentiality or support," he says.

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