A group pf PLHIV had staged sit in protest at Nongmeibung under Imphal East District on February 20 demanding the implementation of permanent solution to address alleged repeated Antiretroviral (ARV) stock out issues.
The protest demonstration was launched under the initiative of Imphal East Network of Positive People (IENP) with the support from various community organizations including Community Network for Empowerment (CONE), Kripa Society, Care Foundation, Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+) and Social Awareness Service Organization (SASO). The irate protestors resolve to continue agitation until the said demand is accomplished.
Addressing media at the side-lines of the protest, secretary of IENP, Kangabam Anandi Devi said that the problem of ARV drugs shortage in Manipur is regular despite the fact the state is recorded amongst high prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS. The state government should frame permanent measure to solve the issue before it is too late. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be possible to eradicate HIV from Manipur.
“Not availing ARV drugs in right time is a denial of right to life for PLHIV as it is their life-saving drugs,” she said and further stated that as per National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) adherence to ART regimen is vital in this treatment. Any irregularity in following the prescribed regimen can lead to resistance to HIV drugs which will eventually weakens or negate its effect. The state government not taking up any sustainable means to wipe out this issue even after having such strict prescription norms is unfortunate.
While informing number of ART patient in the state, she said that as per the data received from MSACS, a total of 13688 people living with HIV are currently on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) from 13 ART centres of the state. Of the total people on ART, 13106 of them are on 1st line, 575 are on 2nd line while 7 of them are on 3rd line ART treatment.
With the initiation of ART in the state in 2004, it has enabled all people living with HIV to live a healthy and dignified life and also helped to reduced HIV transmission to a considerable level. The problem of ART shortage sometimes occurred but doesn’t last for long. However, this time, stock out is happening since June 2022 and still not addressing it effectively, she condemned.
She continued that most of the patients have been buying the medicines from the market and satisfying their medical needs. As such the drug has now dried out in the market as well and there are patients who have missed their medicine doses for 5 to 7 days which has become a case of serious concern.
Meanwhile, during the protest, Manipur State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) officials arrived at the protest site and informed that 1500 tablets of paediatric dispersible tablets will arrive from Nagaland today and will be dispensed from tomorrow. But these tablets will not be able to meet the requirements of the total number of people who are in need of this medicine.
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