Noida is to become home to a centre dedicated to the treatment of AIDS, one of India’s most prominent public health concerns and widespread infectious diseases.
Reports indicate that the city – located in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Buddh (GB) Nagar district – is to house a treatment centre providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) to those affected by AIDS. The centre is to be established by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) under the National Health Mission (NHM), according to a Times News Network (TNN) report, located in the district hospital of Noida’s Sector 30.
This, TNN says, means “patients with AIDS will no longer have to travel to Meerut Medical College for treatment” if they are in need of “advanced treatment.” Currently, the report says, “patients in GB Nagar get medicine and consultation at the hospital or through camps in rural areas.”
Quoted by TNN, the district hospital’s chief superintendent Dr V. B. Dhaka outlined that “the NHM wants to set up the centre for which we have given permission. We will provide a space and the facility will provide treatment and counselling.”
The news is a boon, underscoring the necessity of access to treatment to those affected by HIV/AIDS. The announcement is delivered against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which, as previously reported by Health Issues India, has hit access to medicines and treatments for HIV/AIDS such as ART.
A Lancet commentary published earlier this year warned that
“People living with HIV who should have initiated antiretroviral therapy…in hospital might be deterred or delayed because hospitals are busy treating patients with COVID-19. Furthermore, because many public health authorities globally are focused on COVID-19 control, allocation of resources for HIV care could be diminished, and circumstances surrounding the HIV care continuum could worsen.”
The establishment of the AIDS centre in Noida provides an example of steps that can be taken to ensure that those affected by HIV/AIDS do not see their treatment disrupted. Such measures, along with the adoption of guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), are key steps in ensuring that there is continuity of care for HIV/AIDS.
India is home to 2.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS as of 2017. The progress made against the disease in India is undeniable, but far from cause for complacency. As global progress has stalled, COVID-19 threatens to throw efforts even further off-kilter. The establishment of the Noida AIDS centre is one example – but it is an important one, showing that even as we tackle COVID-19, we can still take vital steps to address the many other health challenges India and the world are facing.