Hospitals turning away cases; delay in supply from NACO office in Delhi
THE Integrated Counselling and Training Centres (ICTC) across the State are facing a scarcity of HIV testing kits for the second round of tests. There was a shortage of testing kits during the first round as well.
Many centres in the City confirmed they were facing acute shortage since July and they had to refer people to centres which were closer to their homes and had the kits. Some centres faced shortage since May itself.
HIV tests are conducted in three phases. Only those testing positive in round one are made to undergo second round of tests and later a third round. “Only a person who has tested positive in all three rounds can receive Anti-retroviral (ART) Therapy,” said a counsellor who did not wish to be named.
3,298 cases in April
The State receives five lakh testing kits per quarter, depending on the requirement and the targets given. In 2010, 41,901 people underwent second and third round of testing. The Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) registered 3,298 positive cases in April, 2011, alone.
The lack of kits in ICTCs across the City has resulted in a rise in the number of patients coming to the Government Ayurveda College and Hospital, which otherwise receives only 250 to 280 people for testing in a month.
“We have five to seven cases referred to our hospital everyday,” said a counsellor at the hospital. The hospital, which tested about 1,500 people for HIV for the whole of last year, has already tested 974 till July this year.
Demands to be met soon
Confirming the shortage of HIV testing kits for the second round, KSAPS Project Director R R Jannu said there had been a delay in the supply of kits from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) office in Delhi for the last two months. He said they were making efforts to buy the kits and they would be available in all ICTCs in sufficient quantity by next week.
However, the ICTCs have been hearing about the ‘next week’ assurance for the past several weeks.
“We have not got sufficient number of testing kits for the second round for the last six months. But the situation has become acute since July,” an official from Victoria Hospital ICTC said.
The official said the ICTC had not been able to conduct tests in even 25 per cent of the total number of cases in the last two months.
The ICTC requires 200 devices or four boxes of 50 devices each every month. But in the last two months, they received only 75 to 100 devices.
“We are not conducting even the first round of tests as we are not able to do the second round,” the official said. Shockingly, no second round test was conducted in April and May, a first in the last 10 years.
In Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, which receives the highest number of HIV patients after Victoria, the testing kits are out of stock for the last 15 days. The ICTC in Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital has on an average 60 positive cases out of 400 to 500 tested persons.
“We require 100 kits a month. But due to lack of kits, we refer around 50 people to other ICTCs. They have been asked to go to KR Puram Hospital or other ICTCs, where they will have to shell out a fee for the testing,” said a staff at the ICTC.
(Published in Deccan Herald on 20th August, 2010)