iconimg Saturday, September 05, 2015

Jatinder Kohli
Jalandhar, September 24, 2013
Forced by the shortage of medicines, people living with HIV are on reduced dose.

They are dependent on life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) but at the ART centre in the Civil Hospital here, the stock will expire in 10 days and there's no way out but desperate measures. The centre accepts patients from Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur districts.

The reason for the short supply of medicines is non-disbursement of money from National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), country's nodal agency for the prevention and control of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). ART is a combination of highly advanced drugs to fight the HIV infection and increase the host's life expectancy. If the first line of treatment fails to control the virus load, there's also the second line of drugs. The patients who need second-line ART drugs are being referred to Government Medical College in Amritsar, in the absence of proper treatment at the centre here.

The ART centre offers nearly 5,000 medicine tablets free of cost each month to nearly 150 patients, who require daily dose of the drug. The public notice at the centre's walls informs patients about the shortage of medicine. "Patients need these drugs every day," said a doctor, "and if fresh stock is not received in 10 days, the patients may have to go to Amritsar or Chandigarh to look for next dose. Because of the shortage of medicines, we have put patients on reduced dose.

Usually, patients receive a month's dose but now they are getting it for a week or 15 days. Next, they'll be forced to buy it on the open market, where it is very expensive. NACO makes both regimens available free of cost.

Medical officer Dr Baldev Singh confirmed that the ART centre was in touch with higher officials about the shortage of medicines. "When normal supply resumes, we'll put patients back on month's dose," he added.

WHAT IS HIV AIDS?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. As the infection progresses, the immune system becomes weaker, and the person becomes more susceptible to infections. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Reason for shortage

Non-disbursement of money from National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), country's nodal agency for the prevention and control of HIV and AIDS

What is ART

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a combination of highly advanced drugs to fight the HIV infection and increase the host's life expectancy. If the first line of treatment fails to control the virus load, there's also the second line of drugs.