JJ Hospital’s ART centre completes 20 years | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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JJ Hospital’s ART centre completes 20 years

Apr 03, 2024 07:40 AM IST

r Deshpande said the hospital had started an HIV outpatient department in 1990. “We already had many patients, but there was no treatment. We were just counselling them apart from providing supportive treatment and managing opportunistic infection. The expenses were taken from the hospital budget,” she said

Mumbai: JJ Hospital’s Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Centre, the country’s first ART centre which has treated 43,080 HIV patients to date, completed 20 years on April 1. ART is the treatment of people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) using anti-HIV drugs, helping prolong the lives of patients with HIV/AIDS.

The first ART centre was started on April 1, 2004, in JJ Hospital
The first ART centre was started on April 1, 2004, in JJ Hospital

The first ART centre was started on April 1, 2004, in JJ Hospital. Dr Alka Deshpande, former in-charge of the ART centre said that as per the then guidelines, the patient had to be in the stage of AIDS to receive treatment.

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Dr Deshpande said the hospital had started an HIV outpatient department in 1990. “We already had many patients, but there was no treatment. We were just counselling them apart from providing supportive treatment and managing opportunistic infection. The expenses were taken from the hospital budget,” she said.

In 2004, the ART treatment only started when a patient’s CD4 count (immune system function in people with HIV) was less than 200. “Now, the treatment is given irrespective of CD4 count. People with ART have now survived for more than 25 years,” said Dr Deshpande.

Dr Priya Patil, head of the medicine department, at JJ Hospital, said the drug treatment for HIV has also changed. “Now we have better drugs, and the major impact is that the patient’s longevity has increased. Their viral load has decreased and that’s probably why the transmission from this patient to other people has decreased,” she said.

Talking about the journey to establish the first ART centre, Dr Deshpande, who was the technical expert on the National Aids Control Organisation and developed the guidelines along with training the doctors, said, “It was UNAIDS passing the resolution that health is a human right and government should take responsibility and provide treatment that gave the momentum. We trained many doctors first on how to start treatment, when to start, how to continue and how to monitor the side effects.”

A 70-year-old patient, one of the oldest patients of the centre, said she has seen a transformation of HIV patients being treated as a social taboo to being accepted. Dr Deshpande said with longevity going up in HIV patients, the new challenges are other age-related problems. “We know patients coming with other medical problems like diabetes, etc. HIV is no longer the concern like it used to be 20 years back when we started the ART centre,” she said.

BOX- Timeline of JJ ARTC 2004-Present

JJ Hospital ARTC was founded on 1st April 2004

Founder Nodal Officer - Padmashree Dr Alka Deshpande

In 2008: Establishment of JJ ARTC as a Centre of Excellence, introducing the State Aids Clinica Expert Panel (SACEP)

In 2012: the United Nations’ eighth Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited JJ ARTC

14 September 2016: Inauguration of JJ ARTC 2

1 December 2017: Third-line medication was started in JJ ARTC

Total ART registrations in JJ ARTC 1 and 2 since its foundation in 2004: 43,080

5,095 patients on the first line, 1,191 patients on the second line and 379 patients on the third line are still registered with JJ ART Centre at present

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