The experiences of many HIV patients in the various City hospitals have shown that the guidelines issued by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) are flouted blatantly. A HIV positive patient, Ravikanth (name changed), had got tested at the ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy) Centre at Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital.
He was reportedly asked to pay 50 per cent for the testing cost, although NACO guidelines stipulate that it should be free. “Since 2004, I have never been charged for the testing. What will poor people like us do? Where will we get the money?" he asked. Even his wife and friend were not charged for the testing till now.
Another affected person said that he was told to pay Rs 200 for testing. However, he did not go for it because he could not afford it. According to Dr H Satishkumar, Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, "The testing, which comes under Rs 200 is free, but beyond that we give 50 per cent discount."
However, Dr Suresh Shastry from Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) said, "Apart from the treatment even basic investigation and CD 4 count testing is free of charge. This is as per the NACO guidelines."
However Dr Shastry added that NACO is not very clear on Lipid profile tests. Other ART centres located in different government hospitals in the City were not charging HIV patients for any kind of tests.