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Delhi`s HIV death rate higher than official figures

New Delhi: Over 2,300 HIV-infected people registered with various Delhi hospitals have died in the past eight years but authorities suspect the numbers could be much higher as another 3,000 who signed up with them are now untraceable and their status not known.

According to statistics compiled by Delhi State AIDS Control Society (DSACS), 2,319 HIV-infected people registered with Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centres in Delhi hospitals have died during these years while 2,936 patients have failed to turn up for treatment.

Since there is no trace of 2,936 patients, health authorities are uncertain as to how many of them are still alive.

A total of 41,065 HIV-patients in Delhi have been registered with ART centres in the past eight years and 2,319 such patients have died due to the infection so far.

"Similarly, there are around 2,936 patients, whose treatment was initiated but they failed to continue with the treatment and are now untraceable," Dr A K Gupta, assistant project director of DSACS, told PTI.

The patients died while they were undergoing treatment for HIV infection in ART centres in the capital, he said, adding these facilities provide free of cost monthly drug dose to patients to improve their quality of life.

Whether to put patient on ART or not is decided in accordance with the severity of infection.

As per the parameters laid down by Delhi health authorities, nearly half of the total HIV positive patients are currently undergoing treatment at the ART centres. However, more than one-third of the total patients put on treatment are not getting medical care today.

"Compared to 21,254 patients, who have been put on treatment for HIV/AIDS, number of patients getting anti- retro-viral treatment is 12,479. Besides those who have either died or failed to turn up, there are 2,700 such patients who have been shifted to other states," said Gupta.

He said there were another 607 patients, who have missed their last monthly visit to the ART centre and these patients are also treated as those who are not getting treatment.

ART regimen mandates for each patient undergoing treatment to monthly visit the centre to undergo routine check up and gets monthly drugs` stock.

Besides providing drugs free of cost, rationale behind the mandatory visit is to keep patients in rapport with the centre, which assures patient`s psychological care as well.

Patients, who miss three monthly visit to their respective ART centres in a row, are kept under "Lost to Follow-Up" category.