The state is likely to get 20 additional Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centres and around 100 linked-ART centres for treating acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients by the end of this financial year.
So far,the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS),an organisation formed for the treatment and control of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-AIDS,has set up 70 ART and 132 linked-ART centres for AIDS patients in districts across the state.
From setting up three ART centres in 2004 to 70 this year,MSACS has provided HIV care services to 1.7 lakh patients.
Through gap analysis,we realised that there was a need for additional centres. Since this treatment is needed on a regular basis,it is difficult for patients to travel long distances. Therefore more centres will be set up in areas reflecting a higher count of patients, said Dr Swapnali K,joint director for ART centers in MSACS.
The intervention programme has catered to sex workers,migrant workers and truck drivers who adopt little preventive measures, Swapnali said.
Currently there are five centres in and around Mumbai,such as Bhiwandi,Navi Mumbai,Kalwa,Thane and Ulhar. Inclusion of three more centres in Dombivali,Mira Bhayander and Kalyan,will take the total count to eight.
While the new ART centres will provide all the necessary treatment to AIDS patients,linked centres will only have support system. It will not be equipped to handle full-fledged therapy.
Since 1997,India has reflected an overall reduction by 57 per cent in new HIV infections.
However,according to MSACS,they have not been able to reach out to all patients for regular treatment. According to National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO),an estimated 2.31 million people are infected with HIV in the country out of which women account for 40 per cent of the cases.
Data provided by MSACS show 47,538 HIV-AIDS cases have been detected in the state this year a dip from 57,075 cases reported last year.
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