With the National AIDS Control Organisation (Naco) falling short of supplying kits for ‘CD 4’ test required for anti-Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) treatment, HIV-infected patients visiting local antiretroviral treatment (ART) centre are unable to avail medication.
The importance of CD4 kits can be gauged form the fact that HIV patients needed monitoring every six months in the course of treatment, while the patients who needed starting ART treatment are first monitored for their CD4 count.
The regular patients are being deprived of this crucial test at the centre since October last, while new patients are unable to go through the test for over a week. The test is conducted free of cost at government-run centers.
“Since October last, the centre needed at least 700 CD4 test kits every month. Due to the shortage, priority was given to those who needed to start treatment. But, for the past one week, even new patients are unable to undergo test, and hence, the department is facing difficulty in administration of medication,” a senior official of the health department told Hindustan Times.
With non-availability of CD 4 kits at the local ART centre, the treatment to patients will be delayed that, in turn, may complicate the problem.
As per a Naco guideline, the CD4 (cells are a type of white blood cells that fight infection) levels are critical to HIV patients before administration of medication to prolong their lives.
Naco recommends that patients with less than 350 cells per mm CD4 counts should start taking anti-HIV drugs. The official said we had already informed the Punjab State AIDS Control Society (PSACS) and Naco about the scarcity of CD4 kits at the centre, but the response of both organisations was “not positive”.
The official said the higher authorities told us to contact the Amritsar centre for kits, which also turned down our request.
As per details, there were 7,749 HIV patients registered with the local ART centre till December 31, who hailed from Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts.
When contacted, Hussan Lal, project director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society, said: “We have contacted Naco, but it told us to use National Rural Health Mission funds to buy the kits and it will reimbursed the money.”