Model Colony anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre, ART centre at NARI clinic in Bhosari,ART centre at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), ART Centre at YCM Hospital, Pimpri are the four ART centres providing frre HIV/AIDS medicines in Pune
A new free HIV/AIDS treatment centre has been started functioning in the Model Colony of Pune city in Maharashtra state.
The Model Colony anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre will become the fourth HIV/AIDS therapy centre in the Pune city.
Launched by National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), the ART centre Model Colony will provide free anti-retroviral drugs to treat HIV/AIDS infection to 2000 patients living with HIV who were earlier deprived of free medication.
There are over 20,000 patients with HIV/AIDS are currently waiting for free anti-retroviral therapy. As many as 21,381 have registered for anti-retroviral therapy at Sassoon Hospital.
The ART centre at NARI clinic in Bhosari has been providing drugs to 700 people.
The ART centre, set up five years ago, has 5,642 patients on medication now.
Over 9,000 patients living with HIV have been shifted to the link ART centres at Satara, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Nashik and other places in Maharashtra, officials stated.
Normally, ART treatment starts as soon as laborbatory reports show that the HIV infected patients’ immunity boosting CD4 cell count levels begin to drop to below the minimum.
In India, ART is given to HIV/AIDS patients whose CD4 count is found less than 300 or 350, at present.
There are, however, countries where ART therapy is started irrespective of the CD4 count in HIV/AIDS patients, experts said.
ART or anti-retroviral therapy comprises the administration of more than three anti-HIV medicines for a prolonged duration.
Anti-retroviral therapy has the potential to increase the life expectancy of people living with HIV, according to Col K Shanmuganandan, in-charge of the ART centre at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC).
The AFMC had started its ART Centre lat year and nearly 2,000 are provided free anti-HIV drugs from this centre.
YCM Hospital, Pimpri, also has an ART centre.
As many as 798 HIV/AIDS patients have dropped out of the ART programme. There have been 883 deaths of people who were on ART in five years as these HIV infected patients succumbed to opportunistic infections like TB, diarrhea etc.
Most of these ART centres are providing only the first line medicines — the medicines given to patients as the initial strategy to limit the multiplication of the virus.
There has also been an increasing demand for second-line ART drugs, which are usually given when any of the first line medicine is found ineffective or when the patient turns intolerant or if there is a possible drug resistance. 125 have been referred to JJ Hospital, Mumbai.
ART therapy has brought about a steady decline in HIV/AIDS infection especially among women attending the ante-natal clinics, stated NARI director Dr RS Paranjape.
Several studies in south India are showing that the HIV/AIDS infection rates are falling. But the need of the hour is providing anti-HIV medicines free of cost to the needy patients.