3,500 HIV patients in city stopped treatment
MUMBAI: Around 3,500 HIVinfected patients in Mumbai have abandoned treatment between 2013 and 2016 and nearly 90% have not been traced, says data from the Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS).
Experts said the trend of HIV patients abandoning treatment — referred as ‘loss-to-follow-up patients’ — not only results in increased HIV-related deaths, but is also a major public health concern because they can spread the disease in the community. The fact that a majority of these
patients are not traceable means the transmission of the virus could be active, said an official from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).
When patients drop out, they are no longer monitored by the anti-retro-viral treatment (ART) centres, which distribute the medicines for free. Experts said they will be more likely to transmit the infection in the community.
“When an HIV patient stops the treatment, the virus multiplies in their body. This patient will knowingly or unknowingly spread the infection in the community either by unsafe sex or use of common syringes,” he said.
Another concern is that if treatment is abandoned mid-way, they could develope drug resistance, making it harder for drugs to work if the patient decides to start medication again.
“Stopping the treatment means you are allowing the virus to acquire drug-resistant forms. Treatment options for advanced forms of the infection are largely limited,” said a doctor from Sir JJ Hospital, Byculla.