Sunday, May 16th

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AIDS Scare

Over 74,000 people who underwent an HIV test at BMC centres between Feb 2007 and July 2007 will have to go for a retest. It is now revealed that kits used at these centres during this period were faulty
This is what they call a nightmare repeating itself. Over 74,000 people, who got themselves tested for HIV infection at BMC–run hospitals and health centres between February '07 and May '07, must undergo the test all over again. Reason–the test kits used at these centres during this period have been found to be faulty.

AIDS Scare
The Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) has issued a notice in two newspapers – one English and the other Marathi–admitting that those who underwent HIV tests at BMC centres in February possibly went home with wrong results.

While the notice is as cold and dispassionate as a government notice can possibly be, imagine the chaos it is going to cause in the lives of those it is directed at. A person who may have been declared HIV positive and who may have pulled himself out of all social contact because of the stigma attached to an HIV+ve, will now wonder whether he wasted all these years.

At the same time, somebody who went home happy after being declared HIV–ve will now wonder whether he has infected his partner and/or whether his children too are at risk now.

Though MDACS refused to share any information about complaints, a Goregaon resident recently found that the HIV test results at the civic–run M W Desai Hospital had contradicted the results of a subsequent test at a private medical hospital in Malad. The mother of two suffered a miscarriage allegedly because of the mental trauma she underwent after she was found HIV+ve following the test at the BMC hospital.
Vaijayantee Bagawe, member of Committed Communities Development Trust, an NGO working for AIDS and HIV patients in India, said it was a major goof–up on the part of MDACS and the National AIDS Control Organisation. “They have played with the lives of people and their families. Instead of controlling AIDS, they are helping in its spread. It shows how corrupt our entire health system is,” said Bagawe.

Bagawe has a point. Forget about helping these people, the BMC is unlikely to be able to even contact them because HIV tests are conducted under complete confidentiality.

“It is not mandatory for a person to mention his real name and address when undergoing an HIV test. He or she can simply mention Mr and Ms and write the registration number. So we do not have addresses to contact them. We therefore appeal through the media that they should take the test again,” said S S Kudalkar, deputy municipal commissioner and head of MDACS.




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