When I joined the ART centre in Palakkad early this year, one of the first things Dr Lekha Sukumaran, our Senior Medical Officer, told me was how frustrating it was to see the Government trying to tackle the AIDS menace with umpteen number of ads, encouraging people to get themselves tested for HIV, with little or no information regarding ART (Anti-Retroviral therapy) centres. That is a sub-optimal use of such a valuable resource.
ART centres provide valuable service and word really needs to get out there—that being diagnosed with HIV is not the end of the road, that there is life after testing positive for HIV. ART centres all over India offer free medicines, free diagnostics and a lot more to People living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV). Integrated counseling and testing centres counsel, test and refer patients to the ART centre when they test positive, but those who test in a private lab may not be aware of these resources.
Anju has been married for 5 years now. Her husband was diagnosed when he was screened after being found to have TB. It is routine procedure now to test for TB if found positive for HIV and vice versa. She has tested negative for HIV at the Voluntary counseling and testing centre affiliated to the District Hospital and the relief we feel is shared. One family member with the disease is easier to treat than two. She has been advised to test once again after three months and to use a condom during intercourse. As ART centres also provide anti-TB treatment through a single window approach, his treatment will be much simpler.