It is likely to start functioning by the end of September to help HIV/AIDS patients
To cope with high prevalence of AIDS in Erode
No need to go to Namakkal or Salem for drugs
ERODE: Persons Living with HIV AIDS (PLHAs) in the district will have some relief in two months’ time, as an anti-retroviral therapy centre is to be started in order to help patients.
According to sources here, the centre will start functioning by September, on the premises of the Government Hospital, Erode, for the benefit of those who need support in the form of supply of medicines.
The State Government has sanctioned the centre to Erode because of the high prevalence of AIDS in the district.
The district is next only to Namakkal, Chennai and Karur in the number of cases.
The centre that is planned at Erode Government Hospital will provide ‘Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy’ drugs to PLAHs to boost resistance.
Human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system of PLHAs, destroying their white blood cells.
If the cells count (CD4) dips below 200, the person is given the medicine, which is a combination of drugs aimed at helping the patient to fight the disease.
A person who is not affected by HIV/AIDS has a cell count of 800.
According to K.K.A. Hussain Ali, superintendent of the hospital, the centre will give drugs worth Rs. 3,000 free of cost.
At the Erode GH, there are a little over 2,200 PLHAs, who receive support from the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre.
A good number of them at present visit anti-retroviral therapy centres in either Namakkal or Salem in order to obtain the medicines they need to treat the disease from which they are suffering.
Travel to ART centres is not only tiresome but also involves cost, which most PLHAs try to avoid.
As a result, a few of them discontinue treatment, which is not advisable, as the drugs lose the fight against HIV.
Take for example the dropout among persons referred to ART centre in Namakkal.
Dr. Ali says only 85 of the 103 persons referred to the ART centre take medicines.
Apart from those who are under the care of the Erode GH, there are others who will also benefit from the ART centre.
There are another 800 positive persons who receive care from the 30-odd Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres in other parts of the district.
There are also pregnant women who come under the Protection of Parent to Child centres.
The Erode centre is expected to arrest the flow of persons to ART centres in other district.
Dr. Ali says at the centre, the PLHAs can also get the cells count test at no cost.
The cost of the test outside is around Rs. 2,000.