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3,000 AIDS Patients to get Free Second-Line Drugs

India has an estimated 25 lakh people living with HIV, with around two lakh people taking the first line treatment in the country free of cost
New Delhi: With the number of HIV positive and AIDS patients developing resistance to the first set of medicines on the rise, India is planning to provide second line treatment to over 3,000 patients.

Informing this at the launch of the World Bank report on HIV and AIDS in South Asia, National AIDS Control Organisation head K Sujatha Rao said that the country has already provided treatment to 46 patients who needed second line treatment, reports IANS.

“About 3,000 people living with HIV and AIDS require the second line treatment. It will take a while before we roll it out,” she said.

The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is the apex government body in India to monitor and curb HIV/AIDS in the country.

According to Rao, presently NACO is providing the treatment only from two centres in Mumbai and Chennai, but plans to open eight more centres in the country.

“About 46 patients have been provided the second line treatment in the country. We are accessing its success before we expand it to other states,” she said.

The second line treatment is being provided at Mumbai's J J Hospital and Chennai's Tambaram ART centre.

According to estimates revised in 2007, India has an estimated 25 lakh people living with HIV. Around two lakh people are taking the first line treatment in the country free of cost.

Rao, however, said the cost of providing the patient with the second–line treatment is phenomenal.

“I fear that it (providing money for the second line treatment) would eat into my prevention programmes,” she said.

The second line treatment costs NACO Rs 40–50,000 per year per patient. The NACO budget this year is Rs 1,100 crore, of which 30 per cent is for the treatment, Rao informed further.

Rao agreed with the World Bank report that highlights the fact that HIV and AIDS could pose a serious economic and social development risk to countries in South Asia, including India, unless prevention programs, targeting the vulnerable groups at high risk of infection are not scaled up.

The report said even if the overall prevalence rate is low (up to 0.5 per cent), there is high and rising HIV prevalence among vulnerable groups at high risk for HIV infection, including sex workers and their clients, and injecting drug users (IDUs) and their partners.

Rao also said that NACO is increasing its coverage for IDUs and for homosexuals in the country.

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Source: iGovernment




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