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Ukhrul HIV Patients In Dire Straits

IMPHAL, May 27: In the absence of a Community Care Centre (CCC) and CD4 count facility, people afflicted by HIV and AIDS of Ukhrul district have been facing untold miseries.

Under such circumstances, people infected by HIV/AIDS are being compelled to go to Imphal for treatment or resign to their fates.

CD4 count is necessary for HIV positive people to measure their immune system. If their immune system is found to be low, they should be prescribed ART drugs.

Generally, all HIV positive people should undergo CD4 count test every six months and this count is necessary to keep HIV positive people healthy, said medical experts.

Though the essential CD4 count machine has been installed at Ukhrul, the machine has not been functioning properly. As such, the machine is not serving its purpose at all.

On the other hand, though the Manipur State AIDS Control Society has opened one CCC of 10 beds capacity in each district of Manipur for HIV/AIDS infected people, no such CCC has been opened in Ukhrul district where the rate of HIV/AIDS infection is relatively higher.

One James (name changed) of Namrei village in Chingai sub-division of Ukhrul district is among the many people who have been suffering without any help because of absence of CCC and CD4 count facility.

Left with no other option, he is currently undergoing treatment at Catholic Medical Centre, Koirengei.

“I came to know that I am HIV positive in 2007 and underwent CD4 count test in Ukhrul district hospital. But after that, CD4 count facility was no longer available at Ukhrul. Subsequently, I was forced to travel to Imphal and underwent CD4 test in January this year which recorded just 114 CD4. Since then, I started taking ART drugs. Now again I am at Imphal as I got infected by an unknown disease”, James said.

Namrei village located along Indo-Myanmar border is about 70 Kms away from Ukhrul district headquarters.

Bus fare for travelling along the pathetic road between Namrei and Ukhrul district Hqs is Rs 100 which means Rs 200 for the to and fro journey.

If one hires private vehicles in case of emergency, one has to spend Rs 3500 emergency situations; one has to expend Rs 3500 as travel fare at the least.

In the absence of any CCC or CD count facility, HIV/AIDS infected people of Ukhrul district have been facing untold miseries as they had to expend large amounts of money in travelling and undergoing treatment at Imphal, conveyed some Namrei villagers.

As against around 530 people of Namrei which has 100 households, there are about 20 HIV positive people. Moreover, many youth have succumbed to unknown diseases suspected to AIDS, James said.

Talking about Ukhrul district hospital, James said that even as the hospital has ART facility, it has no laboratory technician.

The CD4 machine was also not functioning properly and there was no facility for liver function test.

With no facility for testing Hepatitis-C available at Ukhrul, HIV positive people have no other option but to go to Imphal, James added.

If a Community Care Centre is opened at Ukhrul as in other districts, the harsh situation where poor HIV positive people have to live without any hope simply waiting for dead can be addressed considerably.

It would also help in ameliorating the woos of HIV positive people who have to sell whatever properties they have to meet the expenses of treatment at Imphal, said James whose wife is also HIV positive.

She said, “I started taking ART drugs in 2007. The last time I underwent CD4 test was in 2009 but after that CD4 count facility was not working at Ukhrul. Now I would undergo CD4 test at Imphal.”

Saying that it was very difficult for them to come and undergo treatment at Imphal, the wife said that even though she would be undergoing CD4 test she could not help worrying for her friends living at Namrei who did not have the advantage of undergoing CD4 test.

Though a complaint was filed at Gauhati High Court in November 2004 to open a CCC at Ukhrul, nothing has come out of the complaint till date, she lamented.

Nevertheless, people living with HIV/AIDS in the district vowed that they pursue their case until a verdict is passed for opening a CCC in Ukhrul district.

James further appealed to the authority concerned to open a CCC at Ukhrul so that impoverished HIV positive people living in remote areas can avail treatment facility at no extra costs.

James, now 30 years old, got infected by HIV from taking Heroin (No 4) when he was in his youthful days. Subsequently, his innocent wife also got infected by HIV.

Fortunately, their children have been spared from the scourge of HIV.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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