New Delhi: Ahead of the World Aids Day, World Vision India, a charitable organisation, today called for urgent intervention to ensure that people living with HIV and AIDS get life-saving antiretroviral Therapy drugs (ART) in India.
World Vision India in association with the Lawyers' Collective organized multi-stakeholder consultation, focussing on spreading awareness about access to drugs as well as diagnostics for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and building a public support base towards resolving this issue.
They also urged decision makers to pass the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill 2014.
"Over 8.5 lakh Indians depend on ART drugs to lead a relatively healthy life. Once a patient starts the therapy, medicine needs to be taken daily with proper adherence, or else the drugs quickly lose their effectiveness. Once this happens, PLHIV have to switch to a second line of treatment which is five-times more expensive than first-line drugs," said Daisy David, Advocacy Officer, World Vision India.
While the access to drugs is a major area of concern, the long-pending HIV Bill is yet to be passed by the Indian Parliament. The Bill was drafted in 2006, and aims to protect the rights of people infected and affected by HIV, and provides for protection of HIV-positive people and their family members from stigma and discrimination.
"HIV has long gone past being a medical problem and is now an issue that cuts across social, economic, psychological, medical, and human rights parameters.
"While the HIV bills aims to provide protection against human rights violations and recently achieved the milestone of being tabled in the Rajya Sabha, it has a long way to go before being passed as law," said Anand Grover of Lawyer's Collective.
To spread awareness on the unavailability of ART drugs, World Vision India is also organising a photo exhibition titled 'Ek Nazar'.
The UN estimates that India currently has the third largest population of people living with HIV in the world, with around 2.2 million affected by the disease.