Times of India
10 January 2011
The recent Supreme Court (SC) directive to allow patients taking secondline drugs against HIV/AIDS to shift from private hospitals to governmentrun ones has brought out a startling fact.
It has now come to light that many HIV patients were put on the very expensive second–line drugs by unscrupulous private doctors even without putting them in the first–line. While the first–line of antiretroviral therapy (ART) costs Rs 450 ever month for one patient, the second–line of drugs costs Rs 10,000 per month.
The state–run JJ Hospital – the only hospital in the western region of the country to offer the expensive secondline treatment free of cost has set up an expert panel to investigate the issue – the hospital’s ART Centre was flooded with patients seeking second–line treatment for HIV.
"We have a huge number of private patients who have not been administered the first–line of drugs and have been directly put on the second–line therapy. This, even when the patients did not show severe infection," said Dr Alka Deshpande, head of the ART centre, JJ Hospital.
A panel including Deshpande and other experts from medical colleges and AIDS Control Society will study the private cases before allowing them for treatment at the JJ Hospital.
As per NACO guidelines, HIV patients who show mild viral infection and better immunity are given first–line drugs.
After regular tests, when the patient’s CD4 cell count drips drastically and the viral load (severity of infection) is more than 5000, the patient is put on the second–line of ART.
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