Thiurvananthapuram: There is a severe shortage of medicines for people infected with HIV in some Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) centres. Lopinavir-Ritonavir medicine, which is highly critical for the HIV-positive patients, is one of the medicines in short supply now. Kozhikode and Thrissur ARTs are badly affected according to Dr T.V. Velayudhan, joint director, Kerala State AIDS Control Society.
“The shortage of medicines is felt in all 36 AIDS Control Society in India. There was paucity of Zidovudine-Lamivudine (ZL), but now we have rec-eived 1,30,000 doses. There is a severe shortage of Lopinavir-Ritonavir,” he said. An HIV-positive person was sent away with just a day’s dosage of LR at the Kozhikode ART centre on Wednesday, according to Madhusoodanan T.K., coordinator, Help Desk, Cannanore District Network of People Living with HIV (CDNP+).
As such patients have to travel far from other districts, they are given a month’s dose usually. Every day is critical as the medicine helps inhibit the growth of human immunodeficiency virus, he says. “The increase in count of HIV virus would mean that their health would deteriorate faster, and those taking first-line ART might have to move to second-line ART,” he said. Officials at National AIDS Control Organis-ation (Naco) deny a shortage.
“On May 7, Kerala’s stock of Lopinavir-Ritonavir is 9,149 tablets. There is enough dosage for a month and 12 days. Perhaps the problem is with the local distribution,” says R.S. Gupta, DDG (Care, Support and Treatment Division), Naco. He cites the example of UP and Tripura, where, according to him, though 3.8 and 16 months of LR was available respectively, there were complaints about non-availability. The situation is not critical, and the stock of LR will soon be replenished, according to Dr Velayudhan.
The officials at various ARTs offered guarded responses, when asked about the shortage. However patients are feeling highly anxious, afraid the stocks will get over any time. “Many medicines are likely to be in short supply, though the authorities are not giving a complete picture,” says Madhusoodanan.