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The key objective of NACP is to provide care, support and treatment to all the PLHIVs. With this objective in mind various service delivery points like CoE, ART centres, ART Plus Centres, LAC, LAC Plus and CSC have been established and are being expanded in a need based manner.
The free ART initiative under NACP II was launched on 1st April 2004 at eight Institutions in 6 high prevalent states and National capital territory of Delhi. Since then, it has been scaled up in phased manner. As on March 2012, a total number of 355 ART Centres are functional in 31 states and Union Territories.
ART programme was launched in 2006 in Punjab. Under this programme, Anti retroviral drugs, Medicines for management of Opportunistic Infections, Estimation of CD4 count cell and other required investigations, counselling to People Living With HIV AIDS (PLHIVs) and their families, are being provided free of cost.
Presently in Punjab, ART services are being given to HIV patients through nine ART Centres (GMC & Hospital Amritsar, Civil Hospital Jalandhar, GMC & Rajindra Hospital Patiala, Civil Hospital Ludhiana, Civil Hospital Pathankot, Civil Hospital Bathinda, Civil Hospital Ferozepur, Civil Hospital, Hoshiarpur and Civil Hospital, Tarn Taran) and three FI-ART centres (Civil Hospital Batala, Civil Hospital Ropar, Civil Hospital Moga). Currently 42585 patients are registered at ART/FI-ART Centres of Punjab under HIV Care, out of which 20394 eligible HIV patients are taking Anti Retroviral Treatment.
Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) is a combination of medicines given to people living with HIV. This is a combination of at least three drugs from different groups. It works to control HIV replication in the body and helps to maintain the immunity (natural defense of the body). Hence it delays disease progression, prevents opportunistic Infections (OIs), reduces hospitalization, reduces transmission of HIV. It is a lifelong therapy, similar to treatment taken for high BP and diabetes. There are certain side-effects, but these are mostly manageable. ART is given after counseling and proper evaluation of patients for eligibility.
Linkage and Refrerral system is also enrolled in a comprehensive HIV care programme PLHIVs need a wide range of services during the course of HIV infection and stage of the disease. These needs are related to Physical Health, Psycho-social and spiritual health, Nutrition, Financial stability & Security and Quality of Life. These services are also provided at ART centres.
Irrespective of HIV status of a person, all patients are entitled to receive general and speciality out-patient and in-patient services in a hospital. Confidentiallity should be maintained at all levels irrespective of HIV stauts as per accepted medical ethics and the law. Maintenance of confidentiality should help to reduce discrimination against PLHIV during the management of the patient in the hospital. It may also be noted that hospital infection control policies and measures, are properly maintained at all the levels and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is available for all the staff members. If norms are followed, it will create a safe environment for health care providers to manage PLHIV appropriately.
ART has changed the outlook of HIV/AIDS from a ‘virtual death sentence’ to a ‘chronic manageable disease’. ART increases survival & quality of life. Many HIV positive people are now involved in NACO/PSACS supported programmes.