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International News

India: Most Hospitals in Southern District Refuse to Treat HIV Patients

March 17, 2014

This article was reported by the Times of India.

The Times of India reported that it is common practice for hospitals in a small city in the Coimbatore District of southern India to refuse to treat HIV patients, even for routine health issues. After one woman was turned away for a simple colonoscopy, the HIV advocacy group Coimbatore Positive Network said almost all private hospitals in the district turn away individuals with HIV. Other areas of India provide treatment for HIV patients in almost every hospital.

"They tell patients that they don't have facilities or infrastructure to treat HIV-positive people. They tell them to go to government hospitals in Coimbatore or Pollachi," said Coimbatore Positive Network President M. Somesh. In partnership with Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society, the network has succeeded in getting three hospitals to agree to accept HIV patients, although they charge the patients double for services. "They claim they have to purchase disposable instruments and gear such as gloves, masks, costumes which they have to dispose after one use and hence the higher charge," said Somesh.

Only three health facilities in the district are known to provide HIV medications to patients at a subsidized rate. Somesh explained that while some other locations may provide HIV treatment, they do not want this fact known for fear of losing patients who fear getting HIV through a mistake. Those that do treat HIV patients have a separate section for treatment.

It is against Indian law to discriminate against HIV patients but there must be a complaint filed against a hospital and so far, no one has come forward. Officials for the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said that many hospitals do not mean to discriminate but simply lack HIV treatment expertise. "Treatment of HIV patients is becoming a specialty on its own. For example, you need to understand the stage of the virus and there are drugs which can't be prescribed along with [antiretroviral therapy] drugs," said IMA State President Dr. M Balasubramanian.

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on HIV/AIDS Treatment in India

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