SC concern over ART for HIV positive

SC concerned that government is not providing second line of ART treatment to HIV positive patients.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern that government is not making available the second line of ART (Antiretro viral therapy) treatment to all HIV positive patients and was excluding those who opted private hospitals for the first round of treatment.

"We cannot say that the patient cannot go to private hospitals," a Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said when Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said private hospitals were not properly following the protocol for ART.

He said when the patient acquires resistance to the drug due to unmonitored dosages, they turn to government-run centres for second line of treatement which is very costly.

However, NGOs have challenged the National AIDS Control Organisation`s (NACO`s) directives by which the second line of treatment is made available only to certain specified categories of persons based on identified and specified criteria.

The NGOs also sought a direction that all those who are clinically evaluated to be in need of second line ART drugs should be provided such treatment free of cost without regard to geographical location current registration with ART centres, length of time on first line ART or any other condition.

Taking on record the pleas, the Bench, also comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, said "having heard arguments at length, we are of the view that, in the first instance, the quarterly ART reporting format for private sector needs to be immediately supplied through NACO to all private hospitals who in turn will fill up the reporting format".

It also took on record the assurance of the Solicitor General that the ART reporting format will be posted on the website of NACO within two days.

"The private hospitals would submit the data to NACO within two weeks after the format is put on the website", the Bench said and posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.

It also issued a notice to Medical Council of India relating to private doctors involved in ART treatment.