Despite the tall claims by the state government to curtail human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive cases by organising awareness campaigns, the district health department, on an average, has been recording 50 HIV positive cases per month for the past three years.
According to data received from the health department, Patiala district has so far recorded 7,700 HIV positive cases in the past seven years since the state government started collecting data for HIV/Aids cases. The district has the second highest number of such patients in the state, next only to Amritsar. Of these, 1,080 people died during this period.
According to the health department, there was a sharp increase in HIV positive cases last year. From April to October this year, 521 people were found HIV positive, as compared to the 743 cases registered in 2014-15.
Dr Satish Sachdeva, nodal officer, Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) centre at Rajindra hospital here, said, “We are organising awareness camps and efforts are on to curtail deaths due to the virus. This year (April to October), we recorded 250 deaths.”
As many as 4,406 patients are undergoing treatment and taking free medicine from the ART centre; most of these are men. As many as 347 pregnant women have been found HIV positive since 2009.
Data shows that male cases have been on the increase. In 2012-13, 110 men reported HIV positive against 56 women; in 2013-14, 300 men were found positive against 156 women.
While in 2015, of the 38,578 people tested from April to October, 310 men, 190 women and 21 unborn babies were found HIV positive.
Shortage of medicine
The ART centre, established in 2008, has been running short of antibiotic drugs for the past two months. Patients visiting the hospital have been a harried lot as septran tablets, an antibiotic provided free of cost, are out of stock.
Dr Sachdeva said they received Rs 50,000 for the medicines every three months, but owing to the increasing number of patients, the use of medicine had gone up. NGO Patiala Health Foundation also donated Rs 6,000 every month for the medicines.
The centre has also been facing a shortage of space. A senior doctor said, “The centre has been demanding more space from the hospital authorities for three years, but to no avail.” At present, it can accommodate around 25 patients, whereas the number of patients visiting the centre daily is around 100.
Medical superintendent BL Bhardwaj said another room had been allocated to the centre; in case of need, they would provide more space.
No special camps for transporters
Despite the transport department directions that all transport workers in government departments and truck drivers should undergo a mandatory medical test every year, sources said the district health department had failed to organise such camps. Though, Dr Sachdeva claimed that they conducted camps following directions from the authorities.
HIV positive cases undergoing treatment at ART centre, Rajindra Hospital
Year Numbers of cases
2015 (April to Oct) 521