CSACSO latest initiative to trace new HIV Positive patients across C’garh

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Feb 2018 11:18:29

Staff Reporter,


Feb 3,

The Chhattisgarh State AIDS Control Society Organisation (CSACSO) has started a painstaking search for 4,000 HIV positive persons since the Union ministry of health issued a circular six months ago stating that all people living with HIV (PLHIV) be started on anti retroviral therapy (ART) regardless of their blood parameters or age.

The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) previously recommended ART only for those HIV-positive people whose CD4 count (measure of a type of white blood cells) was less than 350 cell millimeter cubes on the two occasions three months apart. The new ‘test and treat’ policy means CSACSO has to find the 7,000 people who got themselves tested at various government-run testing centers over the last few years, but were not put on ART because they didn’t fulfill the previous NACO guidelines. At present, 23,000 positive people are on ART in different districts of the Chhattisgarh.

‘We have asked the various Integrated Counseling and Testing Centers (ICTCs) in the state to compile a list of people who tested positive at their centre but are not on ART,’ said senior doctor of HIV Positive as well as AIDS cases. Considering that ICTCs gets a mixed crowd including migrants, it is not likely to be an easy exercise. ‘We not only have to locate them, we have to get a fresh CD4 count done. Thereafter, we have to counsel them about taking ART,” said Dr PK Agrawal. The HIV virus remains asymptomatic for years, and it’s only when the viral load increases beyond a limit that HIV-positive people start exhibiting outward symptoms such as weight loss and poor immunity against diseases.

‘Adherence will be a big issue because why would asymptomatic HIV-positive people take strong medicines like ART,’ said infectious diseases specialist and immunologist Dr KD Singh. People need to be counseled about the benefits of ART in the long run. Latest research published in the Lancet stated that life expectancy for young HIV-positive adults has risen by 10 years in the United States and Europe due to antiretroviral therapy. ‘This meant many patients can expect to live as long as those without HIV,’ mentioned the Lancet report.

Moreover, there could an increase in drug resistance if positive people start ART and discontinue it mid-way. ‘India including Chhattisgarh one of the major states in nation where large cases of HIV Positive detect every year has to be ready for people developing resistance to first and second-line drugs. Adequate stocks of second and third-line drugs should be maintained,” said Dr Singh, who said the
private sector, had started its‘test and treat’ policy over two years ago.  However, other health officials asserted that there were adequate stocks of all ART drug combinations in different parts of the state. Another senior doctor in the government sector, however, was skeptical about the ‘test and treat’ policy. “It seems to be a pharma-driven agenda to boost sales of medicines,’ said the doctor.