Protests by a group of HIV-positive people alleging shortage of certain antiretroviral (ARV) drugs entered its 30th day on Friday with officials from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) stating that they had met with the group and assured them of fresh supply of medicines.
“Fresh supplies are being expedited and airlifted to priority locations,’’ the Health Ministry said, while protestors maintained that they would continue the dharna until “all HIV patients in India start receiving one month of medicines”.
“The representatives acknowledged these improvements in stock availability and dispensation for one month, especially in Delhi and many other States, yet they continued to raise anecdotal issues of ‘stock-out’ of ARVs in a few States as well as lay instances of patients not receiving drugs,’’ the Ministry added.
The official said that they had been in constant touch with the protestors from the day they had launched the dharna at the Chanderlok office premises. In the beginning, discussions were held with division heads of NACO and subsequently escalated to the next level, the Director of NACO.
Particular efforts have been made to ensure the safety of the protestors in terms of making available drinking water, electricity and basic amenities at the NACO’s office premises, the Ministry said.
NACO has maintained that it will continue to work in partnership with the community and urged the representatives to end the dharna.
Additionally, it said that since NACO is a government office, protests during weekends will be non-productive. “We appeal to the protestors to have faith in the system, end the protest, and vacate the NACO premises,’’ the organisation said.
The Central government had earlier noted that there is adequate stock of ARV medicines for around 95% of People Living with HIV in India.