At a time when the health department is busy in preparations to celebrate the World Aids Day on December 1, but it has completely failed to help them on the ground as the local anti-retroviral treatment (ART) centre at the Shaheed Babu Labh Singh Civil Hospital is running out of stock of antibiotic drugs for past few months.
The HIV-positive patients visiting the hospital have been a harried lot for the past two months due to non-availability of the drugs.
Septran tablet, an antibiotic drug medicine, is provided free of cost to HIV-positive patients and it helps ward off bacterial diseases. Tablets are being given to Aids patients when their CD4 count (number of cells in a cubic millimetre of blood) reaches around 250. Tablets help patients fight the infections as they are more vulnerable to infections. These are called opportunistic infections (OI) as they easily target them due to the weakening of their immune system. Several bacterial diseases, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, septicaemia candidiasis, fever, cytomegalovirus and allergy are commonly found in HIV patients.
As per details gathered from sources, 5,000-6,000 tablets are being given to patients in a month at the centre. As the centre is running out of stock of medicine, HIV patients are forced to stand in long queues outside a pharmacy to take medicine despite the fact that drug is being given to them at the centre easily without any suffering to them.
Sources said that the higher authorities were already aware of the shortage of medicine as they have been apprised of the shortage many times but to no avail.
They told that earlier, OI drugs were not available at the centre a few months ago but then the crisis was managed by getting permission to purchase from contingency funds.
Sources said OI drug is a lifeline for HIV-positive patients and if they do not take it regularly, they can even die of secondary infections or diseases.
They said in the early stage, an HIV-positive person can contract tuberculosis, malaria, bacterial pneumonia, fever, skin diseases, ulcers etc and such medicines are necessary to keep these diseases at bay.
A total of 8,200 patients are registered at the Jalandhar centre. Among these, 200 patients visit the centre every day for a regular check-up by experts.
Going by details, every year HIV patients are increasing in the district as in 2013-14, there were 747 patients, including 475 males and 234 females. Meanwhile, in 2014-15 (till March 31), 887 patients were registered at the ART centres, including 624 males and 235 females. From April 1 to October 31, 491 new patients have so far registered with the centre.