Fifty free bus passes were issued to persons with AIDS/HIV by District Collector P. Umanath, to help curb dropouts from the State-sponsored Anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

The main reason behind patients dropping out from the therapy was the inability to bear the cost of travel from their homes to the ART centres, Mohammed Ali, programme manager of District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit (DAPCU) said here.

A report released by the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society puts the number of people registered with the 41 ART centres across the State at over two lakh.

Giving away the bus passes, Dr. Umanath said the government initiative would help people travel twice a month from their homes to the Anti-Retroviral Therapy centre at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital for treatment. Similar passes would soon be made available to all those going to ART centres for treatment.