Deaths due to AIDS on decline, more ART centres planned

Ahead of the World AIDS Day (December 1), officials say there has been a significant decline in the number of deaths due to AIDS, but the new challenge for state health authorities is to step up treatment facilities to tackle the increasing list of people living with HIV.

Ramesh Deokar, project director, Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) told The Indian Express that 1,243 AIDS deaths have been registered from January till October this year. Last year, there were 1,580 deaths due to AIDS. While there were 10,750 AIDS cases last year, till October this year the number was 7,832. In 2010, there were 13,182 AIDS cases.

"At present, 55 anti-retroviral treatment centres are functioning across the state and nine more 9 have been planned in Pune near Shirur to provide access to more HIV patients," Deokar said. AS many as 1.3 lakh people living with HIV are on anti retroviral treatment (ART) in Maharashtra. The link ART centres will reduce the distance that such patients have to travel to avail of treatment, Deokar added.

A total of 1,250 people who have failed to respond to the first line of treatment are now on second line ART, Dr Asha Hegde, Joint director, MSACS said.

According to Deokar there are four centres that are offering second line drugs at J J Hospital, Mumbai, B J Medical College, Pune and others.

The MSACS director was also optimistic that the transmission of HIV from parent to child has reduced and according to the HIV sentinel surveillance data, of 8.35 lakh ante-natal care (ANC) women tested for the disease, 1,421 were found positive with the virus. The prevention of spread of HIV from parent to child reduced from 1.1 per cent in 2005 to 0.17 per cent till October this year.

WORLD AIDS DAY: Open house at NARI on Dec 1

An open house will be held on World AIDS Day, December 1, at the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) in the city. Dr R S Paranjape, director, NARI, said this day reminds people that HIV has not gone away, and that more efforts still need to be done. "Every year to mark World AIDS Day, facilities at NARI are opened for public viewing. This is our effort to educate people about the work carried out by our scientists and to provide access to view our state of the art facilities and hear about advances in the field of HIV AIDS from experts." On an average, 1,000 students and other members visit NARI on this day. There will be guided tours to NARI laboratories and HIV museum.

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