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Virus deprives those living with HIV of medication, counselling
Those living with HIV are having a hard time visiting ART centres for consultation and getting the medications in time even as studies suggest that immuno-suppressant patients are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
With a continuing spike in corona cases, those living with HIV are hesitating to go out that their daily lives have been affected to a great extent. They not only find it difficult to receive medication and regular counselling but also are deprived of nutritional food with immunity boosting properties.
"We were having issues reaching the ART centres for medication after the lockdown was imposed. While a large number of us unable to commute to the respective ART centres, many fear contracting virus, as HIV is a comorbid condition that can lead to further complications due to COVID-19," said Noori, who herself is living with HIV and founder of SIP Memorial Trust, an organisation working for abandoned HIV affected children.
Stating that they are providing essential medication and consultation through networking with the Tamil Nadu State Aids Control Society (TANSACS) authorities and other non-governmental organisations, Noori said she highlights the need for nutritious food for those living with HIV. "They require additional immunity-rich foods and nutrients to combat an increased risk of virus. The food items provided as ration such as rice and pulses are not enough," she said.
Those affected said COVID-19 has increased their dependency on others as they cannot go out and take a risk. Raghu Kumar*, a 36-year-old living with HIV said: "We could not get our medication after March as the lockdown was imposed and it was difficult for us to go out. We later approached the ART linked centres within our respective zones and requested them to give us medication for two months instead of one month as usual. The relaxations are made and now we are getting back to normal life".
Another NGO working for those living with HIV in the city is YRG Care and is currently working on ensuring required consultation and medication. "We followed up with a lot of those affected and found many unable to take medication or undergo counselling. Those affected in rural areas are more affected due to less number of ART centres," said Satish from YRG Care.