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Facing the Challenge - Page 4

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Majid is a man in Kerala who claims to have found a cure for AIDS. The initial expense is Rs. 8000/ – and additional Rs. 300 per month, poor people have sold their land and valuables for this but the claims are false and the people were cheated. When the medicine was tested in a Bangalore laboratory, only steroids were found in the medicine. He used to print WHO and ICMR certified on the label. No action could be taken due to our lack lusture system. The whole world especially the patients are waiting for a cure.

The virus enters the body and creates a DNA copy, the helping agent is RT Enzyme and a medicine blocking it was found called AZT. There was hope some where but that also was not very useful as it has a lot of side effects. At the Vancouver Conference, one more way of hope could be seen. Two medicines for stopping the process of the RNA being copied in the cell with the help of the portein enzyme were found called Ritonavir and Indinavir’. David Ho and George Shaw hypothesized in 1995 that AZT and Ritonavir and Indinavir, if combined can prove to be extremely useful. Then Dr. Ho gave a cocktail treatment to Amy Markowiz and got astonishing results. The virus was almost reduced to zero. Many people felt a sudden ray of hope and felt there was light at the end of the tunnel after all. But the medical fraternity was not amazed at this as this treatment has many limitations. This treatment has not been tested on patients who have been infected with this virus for a long period. The virus count was reduced a lot due to the PCR test but experts opine this test is not enough. The virus exists more in the lymphnodes rather than in the blood. This test does not prove that the virus has been eliminated from the lymphnodes. But yes this treatment has given the much required boost to this scene. There is no reason whatsoever for Indian to rejoice. Because these medicines will cost at least Rs. 4 to 5 lakhs per annum, along with the additional treatment expenses. Are we prepared to provide treatment to our lakhs of patients? If the virus is not wiped out completely and a certain percentage of virus is still there the patient has to continue treatment. This possible only for a very rich person.

When AIDS awareness campaigns started the leader of AIDS activists Joe, said that the medication for AIDS should be invented in an under developed because if the medicine is invented in a developed country the medication would be extremely costly. Dr. Mehendale and Dr. Paranjpe who attended the Vancouver Conference said that AIDS activist ransacked the medicine stalls saying the companies were earning lot of profit. Dr. Gangakhedkar said, there the government cannot spend on research so they ask the drug companies to do the research. They put a less time period condition for AIDS research. The medicines which are in the market would not have been there but for the drug companies, if NGO’s and patients’ support groups and government come together and pressurize the companies and tell them of the available market in underdeveloped country the companies might agree to sell medicines at reduced rates. All this seems to be a distant possibility right now.

Ayurvedics claim to have known this virus long back. But there is no proof to that. So what remains with us is prevention and creating awareness regarding this illness. The leaflets that the government distributes regarding AIDS awareness are not up to the mark. We have to explain to people the seriousness of the issue. Some workers even took out processions wearing condom garlands in red light areas but that is not the correct way to create awareness. Even Doordarshan should be used carefully. Shabana Azmi is shown taking to an AIDS infected child in hand, on that a patient remarked this happens to children only.

Most of the propaganda is against prostitutes, do they have the right to decide to use the condoms? Condoms should be propagated in clients rather than in prostitutes. My friend Rajesh Kumar’s agency distributes condoms at highways for truck drivers. It is necessary to promote use of condoms for precaution of AIDS, apart from family planning. We remained under the misconception that Indian culture would prevent AIDS and that a culture based society like occurs would never have to face something like this. The number of AIDS infected families is increasing and soon we will be seeing a picture of aids infected people waiting to die show deaths.

Each country should see to it that the AIDS patient dies with dignity. In propagating awareness AIDS patients should come forward and tell about themselves which would boost the propaganda against aids. Is all this possible or it is a distant dream? No minister of head of state ever speaks anything regarding AIDS! Looking to the sad state of affairs, with rampant corruption, ignorance it seem this country has lost its desire to live. I dreaded the idea. When the patient loses desire to live he dies, will this happen to us? But looking to certain dedicated young people who are working in this area, I still see a ray of hope.

I recalled the picture on the last cover page of the booklet of ‘Prayas’. It was a heart moving picture of a father taking his child tied in a bundle on the carrier of his cycle for burying. I lost sleep over the picture, – Will I have to see this in my beloved country, my city Pune, where from I pass oft, the road I take daily?!
Why should this be?

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