'Affordable medicines has helped contain HIV/AIDS'

'Affordable medicines has helped contain HIV/AIDS'

Doc who traced HIV roots in India; compares scenario then, now

Dr Suniti Solomon from Chennai on Saturday asserted that affordable prices of medicines available to treat HIV infected had helped contain the disease in the country.

Suniti Solomon, the Founder Director of YRG Care, of then Madras, who along with a team of doctors has the credit of tracing the early cases of HIV/AIDS in India, way back in the year 1986 was felicitated during ‘HIV Mysore 2014’, a national conference organised jointly by Ashakirana and JSS University, at JSS Multispeciality Hospital in the city.

Recalling the initial days of her research, Solomon said, “I had joined Madras Medical College for post-graduation, when my topic of research was AIDS patients in India. I was determined to pursue research, even after a senior tried to dissuade me stating that it was highly impossible for the dreaded infection to spread its roots in a country like India where the culture of marriage was deep rooted.

However, during the coarse of my research that surpassed even some of the medical ethics, six HIV positive cases were detected. When their blood samples were collected and sent to a prestigious laboratory in USA for confirmation, the prevalence of infection was certified. It set the stone for further detection and measures to check the spread of infection in the country,” she said.

Solomon said that earlier when HIV infected persons were being traced in several parts of the country, the mortality rate could not be controlled due to lack of medical care. However, as years passed, due to the commitment of the successive governments, organisations and also the medical fraternity, the situation improved.

In the initial stage, medicines were unaffordable at Rs 35,000, which was now available at less than Rs 1,000. “It has helped in not only bringing the number of deaths, but also boosted confidence in the infected persons, who are seeking medical help without any inhibitions. Our fight against some of the affluent pharmaceutical companies who wanted to obtain patents, bore fruit by keeping the cost of medicines low.”

Solomon said there was an increasing awareness among the people about using contraceptives and disposable syringes (used to treat HIV infected) and the scientific method deployed in begetting a child through invitro fertility (IVF) method to ensure the child was not infected by HIV.

“What remains is targeting the classified groups like homosexuals and drug addicts, to trace infected persons among them,” she said.