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'HIV+ People with Low CD4 Count at Higher Risk'

Pune: National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) director Ramesh Paranjape on Monday said that HIV positive patients with a low CD4 count and irregular antiretroviral therapy might be at a higher risk to develop complications if they contract the H1N1 virus.

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Speaking to TOI, Paranjape further said that the advisory for HIV patients issued by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) was awaited. The city has already reported a death of a patient coinfected with H1N1 virus and HIV.

CD4 is a type of glucose found in human white blood cells which helps fight certain infections.

‘Immuno–suppressed people, including those with a low CD4 count and no antiretroviral therapy, exper i e n c e more severe complications of the seasonal influenza. It is possible that these HIV positive people will also be at a higher risk for H1N1 influenza–related complications,’ Sanjay Pujari, director of the Institute of Infectious Diseases (IID), said. This is based on early anecdotal reports, he added.

‘People suffering from leukaemia might also be prone to greater risk if they contract the H1N1 virus,’ Pujari said. ‘Since patients belonging to these categories have low levels of immunity because of the diseases from which they are already suffering, they also become prone to other viral infections like H1N1,’ the IID director added.

Pune and Pimpri–Chinchwad have five ART centres run by the respective civic bodies. There are also five linked centres in the city. Sandesh Thorat, president of the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Employees’ Federation, said, ‘The ART centres in Pune have over 10,000 registered HIV positive patients. Of these, 90 per cent come for treatment regularly. So there is not much reason to worry. Secondly, the counsellors at the centres also talk to the patients about the precautions that they need to take against H1N1 flu.’

Outlining the precautionary measures, Pujari said, ‘People who are HIV positive should follow the same cough etiquette, social distancing and hand hygiene measures as any other person.’

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Source: Times of India

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