A noted HIV physician has mooted a proposal to include treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS under Rajiv Arogyasri programme.

Expressing concern over poor research funding holding back efforts to cure HIV/AIDS and developing vaccine, Dr. Kutikuppala Surya Rao, a city-based physician who set a Guinness Book of World Records for designing the largest red ribbon last year, thinks insurance agencies should also cover HIV/AIDS treatment under their policies.

In an interview to The Hindu, he said the Andhra Pradesh Government should take the initiative to extend treatment for Rajiv Arogyasri card holders. ‘Universal access and human rights’ is the theme for World AIDS Day 2010 being observed on December 1.

“To lead a healthy life, a HIV positive individual needs nutritious diet, family support, timely laboratory investigations and regular use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) with good adherence. For all these components financial support is of paramount importance. And this aspect can be fulfilled by the insurance companies,” he said.

Unfortunately many companies in India do not accept HIV positive people for insurance coverage, he said. “At this point, I would like to question, when many diseases such as renal failure, kidney transplantations, heart attacks, strokes, cancers etc., have been included under insurance benefits, why are AIDS patients being discriminated against? Why are they not being covered under the Arogyasri scheme?”

Stating that it was violation of the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, he contended that the life of a person with kidney disease was not more precious than the life of a person with AIDS.  Such disparities and imbalances should not be observed in the health sector, he said.

The government machinery should not treat persons with HIV/AIDS in isolation. “Rather it is the responsibility of all of us in the society to accept them as fellow human beings and give them an opportunity to live with dignity by getting regular ART and nutritious supplements to lead a near normal life,” he opined.

Keywords: HIVAIDSinsurance policy

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