8 more machines for state to test HIV viral load testing

8 more machines for state to test HIV viral load testing

Karnataka will soon have eight more machines that can detect treatment failures among Aids patients who are undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Following the instruction by the National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) to introduce routine viral load-testing to monitor patients on ART, the state will get eight more viral load-testing machines by April.

ART is a combination of medicines that slows down HIV. The machines help to measure the effectiveness of treatment on patients and allow doctors to change medicine if the one given earlier is not giving the desired results.

"Karnataka will have eight machines by April or by May," said an official from the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society.

He said these machines will be set up in state reference laboratories in various hospitals. The machines are in addition to the ones present in Nimhans.

"ART test will measure the response to the treatment. The doctor can change the drug for the patient based on the response," said Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a public health doctor. She said if not measured from time to time, the virus may intensify, leading to death.

The new machines will be installed in Victoria Hospital in the city, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Belagavi, BLDE, Vijayapura, district hospital, Kalaburagi, district hospital, Shivamogga, JSS Hospital, Mysuru, KIMS, Hubballi and Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Science, Ballari.

Officials from the department of health and family welfare said although the machines will be set up a month later, the viral load testing will start on Thursday (February 8). This is conducted with the help of Metropolis Healthcare Limited, Mumbai under a public-private partnership (PPP) to provide viral load testing for patients across all ART centres in the country.

The state has 3.1 lakh people living with HIV who undergo ART treatment, while only around 1.6 lakh of them turn up for treatment.

Naco's instruction to state governments to scale up viral load testing is aimed at moving towards the 90-90-90 goal, 90% of those detected having the virus should know their HIV status, 90% of them should be put under ART treatment and 90% of those under ART should have viral suppression.

DH News Service

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