With rapid test kits running out of stock, the HIV-testing facility is not available at the Shaheed Babu Labh Singh Civil Hospital, Jalandhar, for the past few days, resulting in delay in treatment to patients visiting the healthcare facility for screening of the ailment.
It has been learnt that since the civil hospital laboratory does not have these kits, patients are forced to go to private laboratories.
The facility is available at the civil hospital free of cost while private laboratories charge rs 200-300 for a single test. Around 80-90 patients are screened at the hospital laboratory daily following doctors’ recommendation.
In the absence of the facility, blood samples are being stored at the laboratory and will be tested once kits arrive by next week as claimed by the hospital authorities.
Traditionally, a laboratory-based blood test was conducted earlier and test reports carried out in a couple of weeks.
Another method of detecting HIV infection was made available through rapid HIV test kits for screening in hospitals. In this method, results of rapid tests are made available in 15 minutes. If it indicates a positive result, another laboratory blood test is required before starting treatment.
Sources said it is not for the first time that screening of HIV is not available at the hospital. Reminders have also been sent to the authorities concerned in this regard but to no avail, they added.
Usually doctors advise patients to have an HIV test as a precautionary measure before starting the treatment to avoid complications and to be more cautious if patients are tested positive.
An HIV test is urgent for starting treatment in cases of pre-operative surgeries, normal deliveries or caesareans and other surgeries too.
“We send the weekly report to the Punjab State AIDS Control Society (PSACS) in this connection.
The authorities are aware of the fact that we are out of stock of kits in the laboratory,” a senior doctor at the hospital said.
In the past too, supply of kits for ‘CD 4 test’ required HIV treatment was also affected, as a result of which patients visiting the local antiretroviral treatment (ART) centre suffered.
When contacted, medical superintendent Dr Sanjiv Babuta said, “Despite shortage of kits, we are storing blood samples in the laboratory till the test kits arrival.”