The National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) has established a testing facility to confirm and record the prevalence of Human Immunodefi-ciency Virus-2 (HIV-2) in India.
Pune-based National Aids Research Institute (NARI) will soon train staff from 13 laboratories to perform an advanced test to detect the relatively less prevalent HIV-2 virus.
In the past few years, doctors have identified an increasing number of HIV-2 infections, necessitating the need for a testing facility to confirm these cases.
At present, laboratories send the samples to the HIV national reference laboratory that performs a rapid test, which can
only determine whether the patient is suffering from HIV-2 or HIV-1 plus HIV-2. Mumbai’s JJ Hospital has reported 290 cases.
“Right now, we cannot confirm whether these patients are clear cases of HIV-2 infections. With the advance test in place, we will be able to clearly distinguish these cases as HIV-2 or HIV-1 plus HIV-2 and then decide on what treatment to administer,” said Dr Aruna Shankar, National Reference Laboratory, National Institute of Immunohamotogoly, which has received around 311 samples from western India.
Dr Alka Deshpande, former director, centre of excellence of HIV, JJ hospital, said Mumbai was the first to identify these cases and seems to be a pocket of HIV-2 infections.
“Testing the patient for HIV-2 is a must, as it will help the doctor give specific medication. This is because the drugs administered to patients suffering from HIV-1 will not work in case of patients with HIV-2,” Dr Om Shrivastav, infectious disease specialist, Jaslok hospital said.
According to Dr Arun Risbud, scientist F, NARI the prevalence of HIV-2 of all the HIV positive samples tested at NARI not more than 5%.