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HCV Co-infection in India a deadlier problem for HIV/AIDS infected in state
 
 
  A Bijoy Krishna Sharma
http://www.kanglaonline.com
 
imphal, nov 30: People living with hiv/aids in the north eastern region particularly in Manipur are confronting a deadly problem that is driving them to the edge of despair.
 
Apart from being denied access to the second line regimen of art treatment, a great number of the hiv/aids positive are having Hepatitis-C co-infection which is considered to be more life-threatening.
 
While all the Indian government`s programmes are aimed at hiv, treatment of Hepatitis-C is left out and the state health sector does not consider it a public health issue.
 
It has been reported that there is a 95% prevalence of Hepatitis-C among the IDUs (intravenous drug users) with HIV/AIDS.
 
According to Shivananda of MNP+, most of the hiv/aids positive people are infected with Hepatitis-C which is largely concerntrated among IDUs and the number of infections is increasing.
 
The progression of hiv/aids tends to increase with Hepatitis-C, he added.
 
The reason for the despair of hiv positive people is that cost of treatment for Hepatitis-C, which at around 4 to 5 lakh rupees per year, is way beyond their means, particularly in the absence of any aid from the side of the state. The drug Interferone could cost around Rs 50,000 per month, an activist of MNP+ revealed.
 
Apart from financial cost, Hepatitis-C drugs when taken alongwith Arv drugs also put a lot on pressure on the liver, he added.
 
Though many NGOs are lobbying to provide treatment of Hepatitis-C along with 2nd line regimen art, the government and the health sector has turned a deaf ear to the issue.
 
Another activist said that it is a matter of great shame that India is one of the largest generic (hiv/aids) producers in the world, yet its people are dying for want of it.
 
On the other hand, generic drugs are exported to South Africa and bought by international agencies at cheaper prices while within India the drugs are sold at high prices due to taxes. The government should exempt these necessary drugs from taxation, he added.
 
To make the mater worse, many arv drugs are in line to be patented, making them potentially unaffordable and inaccessible for the common man.
 
Deepak Leimapokpam, of mnp+ further said the Indian government does not spend a single paisa from its own budget for hiv/aids treatment though it spends for advocacy and awareness programmes.
 
All the treatment programmes are taken up with international funding, he disclosed.
 
Another activist lamented that hundreds of doctors were trained by the medical directorate in handling HIV/AIDS cases while only a handful of such doctors are actually working.
 
It can be mentioned that according to ngos there are around five million people infected with hiv in India and around 100 thousand need immediate treatment among which only one per cent is provided with medical facilities by the government.
 
 
 
 
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