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HIV Patients Air Transport Woes

Sakaal Times
01 September 2010
Pune, India

Over a hundred patients suffering from HIV/AIDS from Maharashtra attended a public hearing on their grievances with regards to public transport here on Tuesday. The hearing was organised by The Indian Network for People with HIV/AIDS (INP +) to sensitise the government on the importance of free bus passes and transportation for HIV positive patients.

The INP + will soon knock the doors of Bombay High Court, seeking a directive to the Maharashtra government to provide free passes in State Transport Corporation buses for people suffering from HIV/AIDS so that could they could visit nearest centres for treatment and check–up. The INP + had submitted a memorandum to the Maharashtra government in February this year, seeking free bus passes for HIV/AIDS patients, but there has been no response so far, lamented Pravin Salunke, State coordinator, INP+. He was speaking a public hearing on the grievances of such patients.

"We had requested Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) officials to attend today's hearing, but they did not turned up." he added.

Samadhan Mali, Coordinator, Greater Involvement of People living with AIDS (GIPA) of the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) said, "Our public hearing is intended to sensitise policymakers and civil society organisations about the importance of free bus passes for HIV and AIDS patients. The free bus passes are meant to enable thses patients visit their nearest Anti Retroviral Treatment centres (ART) for checkup and treatment.

A number of patients expressed their agony and inability to reach medical centres because of the distance, financial situation and physical constraint. Incidentally, a lot of HIV patients, who came for the public hearing, were the volunteers of INP+ and working for people who are suffering from this disease. A 35 year old HIV positive patient and volunteer of INP+ from Latur district said, " I am a first line patient of HIV and need to go for the medical check up and treatment to J J hospital in Mumbai. It is very difficult for me to go for treatment because of my financial position. If government gives us free bus passes, it will help us to lead a better life."

Achchelal Chauhan, a human right activist, said that if the government gives concession to the physically challenged, why are they treating the HIV +ve people unfairly. He further said that in states like Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, the concessions in bus fares have been given to HIV positive patients.

Partiality?
Achchelal Chauhan, a human right activist, said that if the government gives concession to the physically challenged, why are they treating the HIV +ve people unfairly?

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