‘Policy on tackling Hepatitis C outbreak need of hour’
By A Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, July 13: Focusing on the current increasing lives lost amongst the People Living with HIV/AIDS despite being on Anti Retroviral Treatment treatment, the World Vision India, a Christian humanitarian organization along with World Vision India along with PLHIV of Imphal jointly held an interactive session with sections of the media at the Press Club here today.
The interaction brought into focus the increasing numbers of lives lost among the PLHIVs despite Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) treatment due to non availability of components to test Hepatitis C in the past and current National AIDS control programmes.
As the PLHIVs in the north east have an alarming prevalence of Hepatitis C co-infection with HIV, the PLHIVs through the media urged the government to urgently commit to a policy on this pressing problem and effectively execute it.
At the session, non-prevalence of specific program components for women and children till date in the National AIDS control programs were raised and discussed as a major challenge.
Emphasizing the state’s issues, Daisy David ,advocacy associate, World Vision India, said “ Rate of Hep C co- infection with HIV is more than 90% in the north east states. It is an urgent concern that in spite of the treatments offered, PLHIVs are dying of liver complications caused by this co-infection and the side effects of ART. This needs to be addressed by the state by offering free treatment for Hep C co-infection.”
Further, PLHIV activists also urged the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) to remove the second line ART eligibility procedure from the control of State AIDS Clinical Expert Panel (SACEP).They urged the authorities to immediately phase out Stavudine (d4T) from the first line regimen and include Tenofovir(TDF) instead, which will be in tune with the World Health Organization’s recommendation owing to its long term irreversible side effects.
Talking to the media, Reni Jacob, advocacy director, World Vision India, said, “The passing of the long pending HIV and AIDS Bill in its original form will contribute to reducing the epidemic and will also protect the rights of people living with HIV, including children affected and infected.”
The participants urged the need for the state and central governments to address the issues of children and women specific diagnosis and easy access to quality care, support and treatment under various schemes, to provide nutritional support for HIV affected families from poor economic backgrounds, strengthening the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission program, to provide effective counseling for positive mothers on child care, for reduction of stigma towards children in healthcare set up and aces to social protection, to improve the conflict situation, insurgency issue and corruption as they affect children and women in multiple ways and to check the widespread drug abuse.
World Vision India and the participants urged the authorities to create a platform for Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA) both at the state and national levels in accordance with the Paris Declaration, 1994. The speakers unanimously demanded that all stakeholders communicate with the charter of demands as widely as possible and create a common voice for the children affected by HIV and AIDS.