Ramya Kannan

CHENNAI: The anti-retroviral therapy programme in Tamil Nadu is set to get a fillip, with eight second-line ART centres coming up. Just a month ago, there was just one.

The Government Hospital for Thoracic Medicine, Tambaram, and JJ Hospital, Mumbai, were the two centres chosen as part of a pilot programme to provide second-line ART drugs to those who had developed resistance to the first-line drugs. The Tambaram hospital was providing 48 HIV-positive persons with second-line treatment.

After an evaluation of the first phase that was executed from January to June this year, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) decided to extend the programme to more centres in the State, again on a trial basis, in the run-up to a nationwide rollout. Besides Tambaram, four other centres in Chennai and three in the districts have been chosen for the next phase, Supriya Sahu, project director, Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), said. The four centres in Chennai are the existing ART centres in the Madras Medical College Hospital, the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital, the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Institute of Child Health. The centres in Madurai, Namakkal and Salem will also be part of the next phase.

The new centres will be entrusted with the task of referring patients, who report resistance, to the Tambaram hospital for evaluation.