The Supreme Court on Thursday came to the rescue of an HIV positive man who was denied treatment, second line of anti-retroviral therapy (ART), by a government hospital in Mumbai. A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has asked the Delhi-based LNJP hospital to provide free treatment to Ramdev (name changed).
Ramdev, from Bihar, was forced to seek help from NGOs after JJ Hospital, in Mumbai, refused to treat him. The NGOs, working for AIDS control, had contended that Ramdev couldn’t be denied free treatment under the ART programme initiated by the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said the second line of treatment was necessary, as Ramdev had developed resistance to the first line of treatment that he had undergone in Bihar.
He said the government, which had planned to set up 60 ART centres by December 2008, had failed to come up with even one for providing second line of treatment in Bihar and Orissa, forcing the HIV positive patients to move out of the states.
Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said the government would provide all possible treatment to the victim; however, the case of the Bihar resident should not be treated as a general one.
Gonsalves accused the government of backtracking on its promise to bring HIV positive people, receiving ART, under the Antodaya Anna Yojana Card Scheme (AAYCS). This would help HIV positive people to avail benefits like those below the poverty line (BPL).
In 2008, the Centre had told the court that there was a proposal to provide benefits to those receiving ART under the AAYCS. HIV and AIDS patients were to be provided with a job card and employment in accordance with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme. However, the latest affidavit filed by the government did not mention AAYCS and job cards under NREGA.