HIV-positive patient denied treatment

Hospital slammed

They complained that the hospital’s Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centre had been refusing treatment to an HIV-infected person.

The group said that Ashish (name changed), an engineering student and a music teacher, was denied treatment since he was from Nagaland and the doctor at the ART centre feared that in spite of counselling, he may not continue his treatment.

Ashish had come to Bangalore a year ago. A drug addict, he had enrolled at the de-addiction programme at NIMHANS, where he was asked to undergo a HIV test. As his CD 4 count (to check the viral load) was 90, which is less, the doctors told him to start on ART and was referred to St John’s Hospital.

When he went to the ART centre, Ashish was asked to produce address proof and a letter from his landlord, where he resided, and the same were submitted by him. Yet, he was not put on ART. His friend accompanied him to the ART and told the doctor that he would make sure Ashish complied with the treatment and the doctor agreed.

Although Ashish registered himself, he was not put on ART medication as the doctor said he would have to undergo two months of counselling. Meanwhile, Ashish had a paralytic attack a few weeks ago.

Wasting time

“We have told the hospital to put the person on ART within two days and have submitted our demand letter to the hospital director. The person requires ART now. Instead, they are wasting time on counselling. He can be told about adherence to treatment after starting him on the medication,” said Parveen of the Sanghatane.

Denying the allegation, St John’s Hospital medical superintendent Dr George D’Souza said starting the ART is not an emergency. Under the NACO guidelines, HIV-infected persons need to be given at least two or four sittings of counselling. The doctor must be assured that the HIV-infected person will take the medication regularly and not stop it, he said.

Dr D’Souza said if a person on medication stopped it, he may develop drug resistance, which would cause more harm. He said the patient would be put on ART tentatively on April 9.

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