Denial to treat HIV patient sparks protest

BANGALORE : HIV Sonkithara Sanganthane, an organisation working for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), Sex Workers' Union and Sexual Minorities' Forum jointly staged a protest in front of St John's Medical College Hospital for denying treatment for a 30-year-old student, who is a HIV positive, from Nagaland.
Enraged by the St John's Hospital decision, Parveen an activist of the Sanghatane, said, "the HIV test was done to the Naga student at NIMHANS, in February, the results showed he got the infection from a used needle. At NIMHANS he was suggested to go for antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment at St John's Medical College Hospital since it was close to his residence but the hospital refused to start ART treatment and asked him to produce the residence proof and one person (friend or family member) as a care taker to start ART treatment. They should have started the treatment on humanitarian grounds and not leave the patient to die without treatment."
Addressing the activists, Dr George D'souza, medical superintendent of St John's Medical College Hospital said, "The rules of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) say that ART treatment cannot begin without prior counselling.
To start the treatment a caretaker should be present to bring the patient to hospital and to take care of him, they should understand this. Once we start the treatment they should come regularly."
Meanwhile, angered by the hospital's delay of treatment Veena, an activist from Sangama said: "The hospital denied the treatment for two months and the condition of the patient is critical. If the patient dies, the hospital will be responsible and I demand the doctors to treat the patient with humanity."
More than 100 activists participated in the protest and demanded St John's Medical College and Hospital's management not to reject ART patients in the name of NACO guidelines.