An HIV positive patient in Mumbai has not been able to take any medicine for eight months. When they tested positive, they did not tell their family because of the stigma. Lockdown means he has to go home. They could not get out and go to the local hospital without the conversation they hoped to avoid.
“I met him last week. Ganesh Acharya, a Mumbai-based HIV awareness activist and himself, said, “Migrants who go home are returning to the cities where they worked.” Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, is only available in large hospitals or designated centers. The lockdown in March has further distanced access to treatment options for India’s 21 lakh HIV-positive patients.
A survey by the international biopharma company Gilead Sciences and the AIDS Society of India, released this week, found that 47% of people living with HIV were worried about getting ART and preventative measures during the epidemic. Doctors also – about half of those surveyed – said they saw a significant drop in prescription refills. Those surveyed in 10 Asia-Pacific countries, including India, attributed two main reasons to this – the fear of Covid-19 infection (62%) and travel restrictions (46%). A total of 1,265 people, including 96 living in India, participated in the survey, including people living with HIV, at-risk populations, and doctors seeking HIV medicine.
When the lockdown was imposed in March, over 21 lakh HIV positive patients and HIV at-risk patients (having unprotected sex) in India had to face difficulties in accessing and testing drugs because anti-retroviral therapy or ART was available only in large hospitals or designated places. “Barriers to access and delivery of care can adversely affect people living with HIV and pose a greater risk of health complications,” said Dr. AHMC, President of AIDS Society of India “If you do not take medications for two months, you risk becoming resistant to drugs. Increases the virus count in the body and makes you vulnerable to comorbidities such as tuberculosis. ”
The survey found that 46% of respondents reported a decrease in the frequency of taking HIV tests during Kovid-19. For India this number was 85%. The main reasons for reducing the test were fears of infection with Kovid-19 (62%) and travel restrictions imposed during the epidemic (46%).
Acharya said that with HIV testing, TB testing is low, which means that many HIV positive patients live with undiagnosed TB. Almost all HIV patients have TB. Acharya said, “In Mumbai, we saw 5,000 new TB cases every month before Kovid.
“In the future, if there is another crisis like this, we need to find a way to get people to take the test instead of coming out,” said Dr. Rahul Burgege, medical director of Gilead Sciences South Asia. In India, 85.3% of physicians said that they had phone counseling, and in total, about 97% used telehealth to consult with patients via telehealth (85%) or video (50%) or to provide recharge prescriptions (67%). Made possible by Health. This is a way for us to continue to maintain the continuity of treatment, ”Bargaji told TOI.

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