It simply ruins you

Drawing from a case of a family in Kashmir with four AIDS victims

World Aids Day

DR. MOHAMMED LATEEF

Jammu & Kashmir is no exception to the global and national effort to combat AIDS. The J&K State AIDS Prevention and Control Society has a network of facilities to provide an effective response to prevention and treatment of the disease which is not only a medical condition for the victim but afflicts him psychologically and socially as well. 
We would like to present here case of a family whose four members are suffering from HIV-AIDS, in order to highlight medical, psychological and social aspects of this disease.
Mr. Zee (name held), 40 year old male from south Kashmir, a truck driver by profession was admitted in SKIMS Soura with severe jaundice and skin infection. During investigation he was found to have HIV/AIDS. Subsequently his family was screened. His wife and two daughters (aged 9 and 5 years) were found to be HIV positive. Mr. Zee and his wife are presently on treatment for HIV/AIDS which is being provided free of cost to them at ART Centre SKIMS. They are both doing well. Mr. Zee was previously bedridden. Now he is ambulatory, although not able to work yet. His wife is also doing well, although she initially developed some side effects due to drugs which were taken care of. Their two daughters are still under evaluation.
With the help of this description, we would like to inform masses about various aspects of this disease.
How does this disease spread?
1. since this patient was a truck driver and would travel frequently outside state. He would stay many days away from home and indulge in what is called high risk behavior, like extramarital sexual activity and drugs etc. Most common route of spread is sexual and people who are away from home and indulge in such activities are more prone to acquire this deadly disease.
2. Blood and blood products which also includes using Intra-venous drugs. This is not an uncommon route of spread of this disease in our state. Although blood transfused to patients is screened for HIV but there are chances that this virus may not be detected by routine tests during early part of the infection (window period). We have good number of people who use Intra-venous drugs with a common syringe. We have been able to screen some of them and most frightening fact is that all of them are HIV+ive.
3. Third route of transmission is from mother to child. Females are usually victims as the disease is passed on to them by their spouse and they in turn pass the disease to new born during pregnancy or during breast feeding. That is the reason for screening of all females for HIV during pregnancy. If detected and managed properly during pregnancy, transmission to new born can be reduced drastically.
Going back to the index family, we would like to highlight the medical, financial and social aspects of this disease. Mr. Zee has suffered a lot medically. He was sick and bed ridden for a long time. Although alive and ambulatory, he is still not able to work and is dependent on drugs for survival. He transmitted this disease to his wife and 2 out of 3 daughters. He has no son. His wife and the two daughters are suffering for no fault of theirs. They all will have to live with this disease. His daughters, even if they survive, cannot marry. Himself, he cannot work and not able to earn anything. His wife is a homemaker. Again not earning anything. The family’s suffering in terms of finances is tremendou.
With all this background, it is not difficult to guess the social impact of this disease on this family. Nobody visits them. They cannot visit their relatives or friends. They are being discriminated everywhere. Two young girls will have to live on their own, not able to marry and without any social support
Facilities Available in J&K
Testing and treatment centers
There is a network of testing and counseling centers (ICTC) throughout the state, in all major hospitals and all district hospitals, being run by J&K State Aids Prevention and Control society. Quality counseling and reliable testing, with confidentiality is being done free of cost to the clients and any person found Positive is referred to Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART) centers.
There are only two ART Centre in the state. One is located in SKIMS Soura (Room No 146  OPD) and other one is located in GMC Jammu. One Linked ART Centre is being opened in Leh very soon. Patients are being counseled, assessed, and investigated in these centre. Investigations are done free of cost and any patient needing treatment is provided drugs free of cost.
How to help such people
Role of Governmental and Non-Governmental organizations (NGO’s).
Some governmental organizations are helping such patients. Still lot more needs to be done. NGOs can play a vital role in containing this epidemic and help patients with HIV-AIDS. Since NGOs are working at gross roots level, they have access to people who indulge in high risk behavior like IUD’s.They can identify and bring such people for testing and counseling to ICTC centers. NGOs can also help patients who are diagnoses with HIV-AIDS by linking them to various welfare schemes for such people.
Civil Society
These people are suffering on multiple fronts. They are being isolated socially. They have financial problems. Civil society can play a major role in this direction. They can make sure that these people are not discriminated against by society in general.

Author is Senior Medical officer at ART Centre SKIMS. Reach him at artcsrinagar@gmail.com

Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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