Sex workers protest as ART centre runs out of medicines

Published: November 19, 2013

 With HIV positive patients being told to purchase medicines from chemists, members of the Vaishya Anyaya Mukti Parishad (VAMP) Plus, an organisation working for sex workers, have demanded immediate free treatment of the patients at the anti-retroviral treatment (ART) centre of the civil hospital at Sangli.

Kiran Deshmukh, president of VAMP Plus, told Newsline that medicines had not been dispensed from the ART centre for the last fortnight. "We are being told to purchase them from chemists," she alleged.
Meena Seshu, who works for the welfare of the sex workers’ community and is the founder of Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha, has shot off mails to the National AIDS Control Organisation’s ART department and demanded immediate dispensation of free medicines.
"Patients who come from Sangli to Pune often complain that there are temporary shortage of drugs," said Dr Vinay Kulkarni from NGO Prayas.
He pointed out that the drug, Stavudine, was being phased out and instead Tenofovir provided along with a combination of other drugs. However, if there is a shortage of these drugs, the patients are given an alternative set of medicine. "HIV positive patients should not develop resistance to the drugs due to such temporary shortage," Kulkarni said.
At the Pimpri-Chinchwad ART centre, Dr Nitin Gaikwad admitted that there was a shortage of drugs for the paediatric age group. "We have at least 429 children on our list and at times drugs like Nevaripine and Lopanivir are not available," said Gaikwad.
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