Maharashtra: Good News! HIV patients opting out of treatment has declined by 83% in the last five years

Owing to sustained efforts on part of the government and NGOs, the number of HIV patients opting out of treatment has declined by 83% in the last five years across Maharashtra.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Tuesday, January 17, 2023, 12:06 AM IST
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Mumbai: Owing to sustained efforts on part of the government and NGOs, the number of HIV patients opting out of treatment has declined by 83% in the last five years across Maharashtra. The data was provided by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in response to the Right To Information (RTI) query filed by healthcare activist and Advocate Tushar Bhosale.

According to health officials proper follow-up, counselling and availability of drugs that have fewer side effects are reasons behind the decrease in dropout figures. From Apr till Oct 2022,

Maharashtra reported just 137 people living with HIV (PLHIV) opting out of treatment; 34 of them were from Mumbai. According to the RTI reply, the majority of the PLHIV in the state are continuing their treatment. In 2017-18, the number of dropouts was 1,012 and it declined to 171 in 2021-2022.

The highest dropout figure was registered in Telangana, with 148 PLHIVs dropping out of treatment. Uttar Pradesh occupied third place with the count of 133. The whole India figure stood at 1,528, with Maharashtra's share of 9%.

Speaking on the issue, Mr Bhosale commented that it's a good sign that after a rigorous follow-up there is a decrease in such cases. Also, the confidence of people in treatment at government hospitals for HIV is increasing day-by-day.

A senior official from the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS) said ten years ago there were more than 15% patients with lost follow-up, but now it has come down to 2%. Moreover, patients registered themselves at the anti-retroviral therapy clinics due to which there were many duplications hence the actual dropout numbers were difficult to know. However, they started the de-duplication process to scrutinise the actual number of dropouts.

“De-duplication process helped us to know the exact number of dropouts due to which numbers have come down. We also started to take a follow-up drive every week. We started to get the exact number of people who left treatment midway and with the help of NGOs, we started to track them. Most of them had given fake addresses while registering at the centre. There were no phone numbers either. But with the help of social organisations, we could trace some of them in the past few months,” he said.

Dr Ishwar Gilada, Secretary-President of the AIDS Society of India and Governing Council member of the International AIDS Society, said “The health authorities are also doing well in terms of tracking and counselling, however, few people do not adhere to treatment and the only thing we can do is make them understand.”

We started to get the exact number of people who left treatment midway and with the help of NGOs, we started to track them. Most of them had given fake addresses while registering. There were no phone numbers either. But with the help of social organisations, we could trace some of them in the past few months.

Aids Control Society officials

…......................

The health authorities are also doing well in terms of tracking and counselling, however, few people do not adhere to treatment and the only thing we can do is make them understand.

Dr Ishwar Gilada, AIDS Society of India Secretary-President 

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