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Delhi women’s panel flags lapses in HIV tests on rape suspects and survivors

The Delhi Commission of Women says it has given recommendations to the state government and police for ensuring HIV preventive care and treatment for sexual assault survivors.

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal addresses a press conference, in New Delhi. (PTI/File)

Most hospitals in the capital do not recommend HIV tests for rape survivors and that police do not inform all hospitals of the HIV status of rape suspects, the Delhi Commission of Women said Thursday.

The panel said it had given recommendations to the state government and Delhi Police for ensuring immediate HIV preventive care and treatment for sexual assault survivors.

“Information received from the health department has raised several serious concerns. It was observed that several hospitals are not recommending HIV tests to all survivors of sexual assault,” the panel said in a statement, adding that some hospitals did not maintain data on the administration of post-exposure prophylaxis for rape survivors and protect the confidentiality of rape survivors’ HIV tests.

“Hospitals like Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital and Rao Tula Ram Hospital do not even maintain data pertaining to HIV tests on rape survivors. Furthermore, follow-up HIV testing and counselling, which must be done after three and six months, is not being done for most survivors and neither is the data for the same being maintained by hospitals. For example, AIIMS, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Rao Tula Ram Hospital, Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital, Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital and DDU Hospital have stated they have no data available on follow-up tests for survivors,” the statement read.

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The panel chairperson, Swati Maliwal, had earlier sought the number of sexual assault cases in which HIV testing was done on survivors and accused as well as details of the process followed by hospitals to prevent the virus’s spread among sexual assault survivors.

As per the panel, only two hospitals—Acharya Shree Bhikshu Govt Hospital and Guru Gobind Singh Govt Hospital in West Delhi—reported that police provided them information on rape suspects’ HIV status to help identify their victims as having a high risk for contracting the virus.

“Timings of the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre were observed to be from 9am to 4pm only, which forced many survivors of sexual assault to return the day after the incident for HIV testing, and significantly reduced their chances of availing HIV testing and counselling,” the panel said.

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Of the 180 survivors who underwent medico-legal examinations at the Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital at Ashok Vihar, only a few were tested for HIV, the panel said.

First published on: 29-09-2022 at 02:19:52 pm
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