Pune: To study the natural history of neurological involvement in patients with human immunodeficiency (HIV), the National AIDS Research Institute (Nari) along with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will set up an anti–retroviral therapy (ART) centre at a civic hospital in the city in the next two months.
The move assumes significance as the extent of HIV–associated neuro–cognitive disorders or HIV–associated dementia has not been ascertained among HIV–infected Indians.
“The proposed ART centre will conduct studies to gauge the impact of anti–HIV drugs on the neurological capabilities of an HIV–positive patient,” said Ramesh Paranjape, director of NARI.
PMC deputy health officer D D Chandakkar said the Bhabha dispensary a civic hospital near Deep Bungalow chowk has been identified for the ART centre.
Paranjape added that to understand issues like how frequently and how early does neurological involvement in an HIV–positive patient occur will be their main motto. “A full–scale ART centre, to undertake research and provide treatment to every HIV–infected patient, will be translated into reality over the next two months. The National AIDS Control Society (NACO) has formally approved the project.”
Paranjape said the purpose of starting the centre at a civic hospital is to provide treatment to HIV patients and to act as a research centre to primarily assess the extent of neurological involvement in HIV–positive patients.
“The ART centre at NARI works exclusively to conduct trials for HIV patients. But since the place where NARI is located is a bit isolated and lacks sufficient space to start a full–scale centre, we decided to start the centre at a civic hospital,” said Paranjpe. The medical facilities and space would be provided by the PMC, he added.
“Moreover, we have an ART centre at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), where those who have undergone some trials in the past, receive treatment,” said Paranjpe. “But the newly proposed ART centre will be properly equipped with a clinic, laboratory, training unit, pharmacist, as well as nursing and medical facilities.”