Building on the success of the Pulse Polio programme, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has begun work on total eradication of new HIV cases and aims to achieve this target by 2030.
The BMC and the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) have jointly sought permission from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) for the treatment of all HIV-positive cases. Currently, only those HIV-positive patients showing co-morbid conditions or those diagnosed with AIDS are put on medication.
This move comes after Mayor Snehal Ambekar signed the Paris Declaration last week on fast-tracking cities’ fight against AIDS.
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Data gathered from the MDACS indicates a pool of 46,191 HIV-positive cases within Mumbai limits across its 14 Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centers. Of these, 30,954 patients are on life-long ART treatment. The MDACS now, however, also plans to put the remaining 15,237 patients on medication to stop them from falling under the AIDS category. According to NACO guidelines, only HIV-positive patients who have a CD4 count below 350, termed as AIDS cases, require treatment. A CD4 cell is a part of body’s infection fighting system, a patient with the HIV infection suffers from loss of these cells.
“Apart from those who are detected with less CD4 count, we also provide treatment to ones with lower immunity like tuberculosis patients and pregnant women,” said Dr Shrikala Acharya, additional project director at MDACS. If NACO approves, all patients can be treated well in advance even before they contract AIDS, according to executive health officer at the BMC, Dr Padmaja Keskar. “However, stocking extra drugs will be an issue,” she admitted.
Under the planned targets for 2030, special attention will also be paid to high-risk categories. MDACS data suggests there are 21,287 sex workers, 11,688 men-having-sex-with-men, 4,537 transgenders and 1,172 injectable drug users roped in the AIDS control efforts.