BENGALURU: In the ongoing COVID bed crisis, among the affected are HIV AIDSHIV positive patients too. Being immunocompromised, they are at risk of higher severity of COVID infection and hence, require prompt treatment once they test corona positive, health workers say.
"Two HIV positive patients, one from Bidar and another from Madikeri tested COVID positive and needed to be admitted in the hospital. Both passed away as they could not get timely treatment. I received another call on Thursday, of a patient from Chitradurga who is taking HIV treatment in a private hospital in Bengaluru but on testing positive, he could not find bed due to the ongoing shortage. He is suffering from breathlessness," said Dr. Ravi N, professor and head of radiodiagnosis, Victoria Hospital.
He mooted separate beds or wards need be reserved for them to ensure COVID treatment on priority, in addition to other immunocompromised patients such as those with cancer.
Gundurao Humnabad, a counsellor for HIV patients at the ICTC (Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre) in Shahapur taluk hospital in Yadgir district, said that these patients have low immnunity to begin with. Should they get COVID, they are likely to be more affected than otherwise healthy people, he added.
"In districts like Yadgir and Kalaburagi, there is a shortage of beds for people. It would be useful if some beds are reserved for COVID treatment of HIV positive patients as early diagnosis and treatment can increase their chances of recovery," Humnabad said.
There are no such facilities at the moment, confirmed Dr. Mohan Kumar, joint director of Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society. He said that HIV patients with COVID will see higher disease severity with lung involvement, neurological symptoms, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), etc.The instance of HIV AIDS in Karnataka is 0.6 per 1000 population.
"One to two beds can be reserved in hospitals for them. However, it should not lead to stigma when they are separated from other COVID patients," Dr. Mohan Kumar said.
HIV Patients are usually on lifelong antiretroviral medications (ART). They are put on the second or third line of treatment if they face more serious symptoms such as tuberculosis, Cryptococcal meningitis, neurological issues, peripheral neuropathy, extrapulmonary tuberculosis, etc.