For the past four months, bureaucratic hurdles at JJ Hospital have prevented the monthly screening of 450-odd HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) positive patients from the state for second line anti-retroviral therapy (ART).
The monthly screening of patients for second line ART was discontinued after Dr Alaka Deshpande, the head of the ART centre, retired in November. Patients who are resistant to the first line of treatment are selected for the second line of ART.
“The nodal person [Dr Deshpande] retired in November following which there was a gap because no doctor was trained to replace her. The new team headed by Dr VK Joglekar, has requested us to sensitise the team about ART,” said Dr BB Rewari, ART consultant, National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).
According to doctors, if the ART treatment is not revived soon, the immunity of the patient will drop, making him vulnerable to infections such as tuberculosis.
Though Dr Rewari claimed only 100 people are required to be screened at present, sources at the hospital said around 450 patients are required to be screened at JJ Hospital. Till October 2011, nearly 100 patients were screened every month at the hospital, of which 10% were selected for second line ART.
Till a few months ago, the hospital was the only centre for second line treatment for the state. “The number of patients in the state depending on JJ Hospital for second line treatment reduced after new centres were opened at Aurangabad and Pune. A centre at Nagpur will start soon,” said Dr Rewari.
Dr Rewari will be at the hospital for a two-day visit next week to train the doctors following which the process of screening the next round of patients is likely to begin. A panel including Dr Joglekar and other experts from medical colleges and Aids Control Society will study the cases of screening before beginning second line treatment at the JJ Hospital.
Till October 2011, 2256 patients were on second line ART at JJ hospital. A 2010 Supreme Court judgment stated that the second line of treatment can be offered to patients seeking treatment with private doctors.