Seventeen Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) centres in Tamil Nadu were functioning without medical officers for a period ranging from one to two years. People living with HIV/AIDS are finding it difficult to access healthcare services in these regions, an association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) has raised.
The ART centres at Rasipuram, Palani, Jayamkondam, Tenkasi, Manapparai and Melur did not have doctors while centres such as those in Kilpauk, Chengalpattu and Perambalur had only one doctor as against the sanctioned two posts, members of the Tamil Nadu Networking People With HIV/AIDS (TNNP+) pointed out.
The posts of counsellors, nurses, pharmacists and community care coordinators were vacant in ART centres. Many centres lacked drinking water facilities and toilets for the PLHAs, while in some, there was no waiting area, according to a statement issued by TNNP+.
PLHAs on ART have to undergo liver function tests and renal function tests every six months. However, these tests were done only at ART centres in government medical college hospitals and not in taluk hospitals, the association pointed out.
No drugs were available for opportunistic infections at any of the ART centres while many government hospitals were avoiding performing surgeries on PLHAs.
Children with HIV/AIDS have not received their annual financial assistance of ₹2,000 to ₹5,000 towards food and education. The association urged the government to take steps to provide monthly assistance of ₹1,000 for all PLHAs in the State and to provide housing facilities for them.
The association has written to the Chief Minister and health officials seeking their intervention to address their demands.