Kohima: Severe shortage of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) drugs in Nagaland, a key regime for treatment of AIDS patients, has led to protests by sufferers.
Around 40 sufferers, mostly women, on Wednesday held a protest outside the Nodal ART Centre at the Dimapur civil hospital, complaining that the drugs were not available since
The protestors held placards reading `We demand justice and the right to live with dignity` and `We demand adequate and consistent supply of ART drugs`.
They said that instead of supplying the drugs directly to the ART centres by NACO, they should be sent to the Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS), since the nodal agency from New Delhi could not monitor properly the ground situation.
Medical officer of Dimapur ART Centre, Dr Hotoka Hesso admitted there was a shortage for the past few months of Efaverinz, one of the three main drugs of the ART regime.
He said the ART centre had written to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) officials for the supply of the drugs such as Efavirenz, Zidovudine, Stavudine and Lamovudine.
The NACO NE regional director assured to send the drugs from Arunachal Pradesh within a day or two, he said.
Over 3,300 HIV infected people were registered with the Dimapur ART centre.
A month’s course of ART drugs cost roughly Rs 4,000 which was being supplied free by NACO.
As per WHO guidelines, standard ART consists of the use of at least three anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to suppress the HIV virus and stop its progress.
The drugs were required to be taken almost on daily basis; otherwise the body would develop resistance.
Another batch of the drugs was expected from the Tuensang ART centre.