Dehradun, November 30
While medical facilities for people suffering from HIV/AIDS have considerably improved in the state, they continue to face economic and social hardships in the absence of specific government social schemes.

As HIV/AIDS increases social and health care costs, for the poor suffering from the virus social security and concessions are necessary to help them tide over their financial condition. “Though free treatment is available at government hospitals our government has not implemented any scheme targeting persons suffering from HIV. Poor HIV/AIDS patients are getting financial aid in Delhi, but the Uttarakhand government seems to be oblivious of the needs of such people,” said the Lawrence of Horizon for Prosperity and Education (HOPE), an NGO.
A total of 1,421 HIV patients were undergoing treatment at the anti-retroviral treatment (ART) centre of Doon Hospital and the ART centre at Haldwani Medical College till August 2012. Most of these patients are under considerable stress and trips to hospitals and ART centres for treatment add to their agony. “In order to provide relief to HIV patients, the Central government had announced the railway pass scheme. As buses are the common mode of transportation in Uttarakhand, we had suggested free bus passes for HIV patients. But there is no unanimity on the method of implementation of the scheme with the Department of Transport,” said Dr PC Kapri, additional project director, Uttarakhand State AIDS Control Society (USACS).
Though the number of children with HIV and the population of orphans, whose parents have died of AIDS and who are being looked after by elderly people, is growing in the state, neither the Department of Women and Child Development nor the Department of Social Welfare have tried to reach out to these persons through any schemes. “A total of 109 children (below 15 years) are undergoing treatment at the ART centre at Doon Hospital. We are doing all we could to provide for their medical treatment but in the absence of any nutritional supplement, which many cannot afford, the effect of treatment is slow,” added Dr KS Negi, Senior Medical Officer, ART centre.
For the last two years the paediatric HIV treatment protocol has been in place at the ART centre at Doon Hospital for children below 15 years. Earlier the children were administered the adult formulation, which often led to under or over dosage due to human error, causing resistance to the drug. 

Tribune News Service

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