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AFMC Opens ART Centre for Civilians

Pune: In a first of its kind initiative, the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), here, has set up an anti–retroviral therapy (ART) centre exclusively for civilians, which will provide free of cost treatment. The ART centre, inaugurated by Lieutenant General Shiv Kumar Sharma, director and commandant, AFMC, is the only defence organisation in the country, which is providing AIDS treatment for civilians.

“The army hospital in Delhi has an ART centre, but it is being used for the defence personnel only,” said Brigadier S Rohatgi, professor and head of the department of internal medicine. “The ART centre at AFMC is exclusively for civilians,” AFMC spokesperson Lt Col Abhijit Rudra told TOI.

Set up with the permission of the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society, the centre is capable of providing care to 500 patients initially, Rohatgi added. “Till now we have got 129 AIDS patients registered with the centre.”

Rohatgi said that the anti–retroviral therapy has the potential to increase the life expectancy of HIV positive patients by 30 years. The incidence of vertical transmission from a pregnant lady to her unborn baby could be reduced from 33% to 08%. Where the ART is combined with Caesarean section operation, the incidence can be reduced to as low as 02%.

According to the AFMC, the centre will provide free drugs, counseling facilities, care and support services and state–of–the–art laboratory facilities.

Medical practitioners estimated that there are more than 7,000 HIV infected patients in the city who need ART. Apart from some private ART centres, the Pune Municipal Corporation is also running an ART centre in the city with the help of the National AIDS Research Institute. The Sassoon general hospital also has an ART centre.

Sanjay Pujari, director of the Institute of Infectious Diseases, told TOI: “Many patients hesitate to take treatment at public sector organisations. Sensitising such patients is necessary.” More centres are required in the city to treat HIV patients as well as to create awareness about HIV. So, the new ART centre at AFMC is a good step.

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Source: The Times of India

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