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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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CIMA Gallary

HIV test teaser for medicos

Doctors and medicos at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) are angry over the decision of the health cradle authorities to make HIV tests for first-year MBBS students mandatory despite Bihar State AIDS Control Society (BSACS) directions against the move.

When the admission process started at the health cradle on July 30, the administration asked the students to submit an HIV test report. The admission to 80 seats at the health cradle got over on Thursday. Around 30 students, who did not submit the report, were asked to submit the same by August 7.

Classes for the first-year MBBS would begin later this month. Students who have taken admission in PMCH said they are shocked and offended with the decision.

“No other medical college in the state or anywhere else asks students to take an HIV test. But I did not have any choice here. I did not want to displease the authorities. So I submitted my report after getting the test done at the college laboratory,” said a first-year student on condition of anonymity.

The doctors at the hospital are also unhappy over the decision.

“National AIDS Control Organisation’s HIV testing policy clearly says that nobody can be forced to take an HIV test without counselling and a written consent. I have been protesting against the college stand since I learnt about it. No educational institution in the country asks its students to undergo such a test,” said Dr Devendra Prasad, a senior doctor at the PMCH clinical pathology department.

Prasad, who was earlier attached with BSACS, added: “The principal or admission-in-charge does not have the right to demand a medical examination where the purpose is merely to find out if a student is HIV-positive.”

PMCH admission in-charge Dr Amarkant Jha Amar said though the college administration has not issued any written order, students have been asked to furnish details of his/her HIV status at the earliest.

Sanjeev Kumar Sinha, project director, BSACS, told The Telegraph: “This is a gross violation of norms. We were told that the orders were taken back after objections were raised over the issue. I will find out whether they are still going ahead with it and take up the matter with the state government.”

The principal, Dr N.P. Yadav, defended his decision.

“All students have to undergo physical examination ahead of admission anyway. There is no harm if an additional test is performed. It will be for the good of the students if they know their HIV status. Besides, none of the students has tested HIV-positive so far,” he said.

Asked if the health hub would cancel the admission of any student if they were tested HIV-positive, Yadav said: “I cannot say about that at this point of time. We will see if a case comes up.”