ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Shortage of Will

Government apathy imperils persons living with HIV/AIDS.

One bit of news which our star-struck media has mostly kept away from its pages and talk shows is the acute shortage of medicines given to people living with the human immunodefi ciency virus (PLHIV). For the 7,68,840 Indians who receive free antiretroviral therapy (ART), the anxiety and disruption of daily life generated by frequent shortages and stock-outs of the drugs is not only one more hardship in their already difficult lives, it is also life-threatening. As in the treatment of tuberculosis, interruptions in the treatment regimen of HIV/AIDS can lead PLHIV to develop resistance to the fi rst-line treatment, thus needing to fall back on the even more expensive second line drugs. According to official estimates India had 20,88,642 PLHIV in 2011, 88% of them in the 15 to 49 years age group, with women accounting for 39% and children for 7% of the total.

A legal notice sent to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare by the HIV/AIDS unit of the Lawyers Collective on behalf of the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) has not elicited any response even after a month. Given this context, the central government's decision in August this year to wind up and merge the Department of AIDS Control (DAC) with the health and family welfare ministry has not bolstered the confidence of HIV/AIDS patients either.

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