Andhra Pradesh

HIV patients live in constant fear as third wave looms

With the detection of a new highly-transmissible coronavirus variant, ‘Omicron’ in South Africa and the threat of a third wave of the pandemic becoming bigger, HIV patients in Prakasam are in jitters.

Their fear is reasonable, as of the total 41,423 persons living with HIV(human immunodeficiency virus) in the district, only less than 3,500 persons had received both doses of vaccine while around 12,000 persons are partially vaccinated.

During the first wave of the pandemic, 170 HIV patients tested positive and ten of them succumbed to the virus. Most of them hailed from mandals where there was no target intervention, according to District AIDS Control Society sources.

Their compromised immune system makes them more vulnerable to infections, and more so the reason why vaccination against COVID for them is important. Special medical camps should be organised for them at the level of public health centres, says HELP, an NGO, director N.V.S. Rammohan.

He adds that the District AIDS Control and Prevention Committee under the District Collector should be activated and schemes for patients’ socio-economic uplift should be taken up on top priority.

‘Many yet to receive pension’

Nutritious food, too, remains a distant dream for most of them, especially in non-target intervention areas in the district. A majority of the persons, who had tested positive for HIV, lacked nutritional support. On a side note, of more than 8,800 infected persons who had applied for pension, only little over 2,200 of them got ₹2,000 as pension, according an NGO, working among the high risk group.

During the first wave of the pandemic, Premalatha (name changed) from Korisapadu village in Prakasam district had faced a lot of difficulty in getting HIV medicines. But fortunately for her, the Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society(APSACS) supplied the antiretroviral (ARV) medicines at her residence.

To avoid such hassles in the event of a third wave, ARV drugs should be made available at the level of PHC, experts say.

‘HIV positivity rate coming down’

Meanwhile, District Aids Prevention and Control Unit(DAPCU) Manager T. Ranga Rao says that HIV positive rate has come down from last year’s 1.26% to 0.89% during April and October 2021 when over 1.06 lakh people were tested including over 45,000 pregnant women.

As many as 659 had tested positive for HIV. “We have stepped up awareness programmes in the high risk mandals by roping in Burakatha artistes to highlight the safe practices,” he adds.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 8:08:03 AM |

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