As Covid wave abates, HIV patients hope for better healthcare support

HIV/AIDS patients, who are at a high risk of developing Covid-19 due to a compromised immune system, faced a huge challenge in getting medicines and timely treatment.

Published: 19th February 2022 07:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2022 07:48 AM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purpose. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  With the Covid-19 wave abating, HIV/AIDS patients and NGOs/activists fighting for them hope the healthcare system in the national capital will turn attention to their plight. HIV/AIDS patients have been among the worst since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, with testing going down and treatment ignored as the entire system turned its focus to the Covid-19 battle. 

According to doctors, every year around 6,000 new cases of HIV infection add up in Delhi. But only around 3,000 fresh cases were recorded in 2020-2021. They attribute this to less testing and reverse migration of workers in 2020. The tests decreased from 9,81,762 in 2019-2020 to 5,84,602 in 2020-2021. 

“Last year, we detected less than 4,000 cases because a large number of migrants went back home,” said Dr. Parveen Kumar, additional project director, Delhi State AIDS Control Society. The migrant population used to add up to the numbers of those infected with HIV, he added.

As per the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) data of 2019, there were 2.99 lakh cases of HIV infections in the capital. Since the onset of Covid, people with HIV/AIDS have also not been able to get the right treatment. 

“HIV-infected people have to undergo blood and urine tests every six months. But with hospitals converted into Covid wards and the entire healthcare system overwhelmed with covid cases, these facilities were hit badly,” said Harishankar, an HIV-infected person who works with The Delhi Network of Positive People. 

Being at a high risk of developing Covid-19 due to a compromised immune system, they also faced a huge challenge in getting medicines and timely treatment. A number of Covid-19 fatalities were recorded among the HIV patients.

“Several HIV-affected people I know passed away in the Covid pandemic. Many stopped taking their medicines as the medicines were not available anywhere during lockdown,” said  Harishankar.  According to Anjali Gopalan, founder and executive director of Naz Foundation, an NGO dedicated to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the campaign against HIV-AIDS has been one of the most successful campaigns in the country run by the government of India but while the cases are in large numbers the government has stopped focussing on it. 

“Ever since the Covid pandemic, the government funding has gone down drastically for the HIV patients. If we are serious about it we have to start new prevention programs for those affected,” she added. 


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