The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) has now increased the number of centers in India that provide free Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART), from 54 to 91.
The ART is a combination of three potent drugs, which is being given to persons who are in the advanced stage of AIDS. Even though these drugs do not cure the HIV infection, they do help to suppress the multiplication of the virus and to reduce the number of opportunistic infections, thereby improving the quality of life and prolonging the life span.
Medicines for treating 85,000 patients have been made available at these 91 centers. All the 91 centers have specially appointed and trained doctors, counselors and laboratory technicians to help initiate patients on ART and persuade them to follow them up regularly.
Besides providing the free Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART), all the centers are providing counseling to the infected persons, so that they maintain regularity of their medications. In fact, continuity is the most important factor for the long-term effectiveness of the ART drugs, as stoppage could lead to drug resistance.
At present around 40,000 persons are on ART. By March, the number is expected to rise to 85,000.
The Catholic Church in India runs more than 60 centers to help care for people infected with the HIV virus. These centers are attached to its hospital and health centers and many of them are located in remote villages of India.