The Telegraph
Tuesday , October 9 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Apathy slur after HIV patient’s death

Imphal, Oct. 8: She was living with HIV for 14 years and had aspired to be a nurse.

But 20-year-old Wangkhem Dolly was not allowed to realise her dream.

She succumbed to the virus on October 2 and her relatives attributed her early death to neglect by the state HIV/AIDS authorities.

Dolly was diagnosed HIV-positive at the age of 6.

Both her parents died and under the care of her maternal grandfather H. Nabakishore and grandmother Priyolata Devi, she began anti-retroviral therapy since 2001, three years before the state government opened its first ART centre at Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal.

The family and NGOs lamented that if the authorities had taken a little more interest, she could have survived.

“My granddaughter was struggling to get second line therapy for the past 11 months, but she was denied,” Nabakishore said.

While undergoing first line anti-retroviral therapy, her condition deteriorated and she was referred to the State AIDS Clinical Expert Panel, at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) for approval of second line therapy in February last year.

It is the responsibility of the panel to decide whether a patient should graduate to second line therapy after a viral load test at a Calcutta centre.

“Unfortunately, she was compelled to continue with the same drug while waiting for the panel meeting. She attended the meeting three times and she was not advised to do her viral load testing,” said R.K. Nolikanta, convener of the organising committee, International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Observation, 2012, an umbrella body of NGOs working for HIV/AIDS victims.

The grandfather said when her condition deteriorated further, the panel asked her to wait till October 6 (last) for the panel meeting.

“She could no longer wait. She died four days ahead of the meeting,” the grandfather said.

Dolly was to appear for her matriculation examination this year.

However, she had to postpone it for next year, because of ill health.

“Dolly was a good student. She was good at painting. She had wanted to be a nurse and serve the sick and the poor. But she could not fulfil her dream,” Kh. Dinesh, an AIDS worker, who was associated with Dolly’s struggle for survival, said.

According to the Manipur AIDS Control Society, there are more than 13,000 patients taking first line therapy and nearly 84 on second line therapy in Manipur.

The number of patients requiring second line is growing, AIDS workers said.

The AIDS workers said also demanded that the viral load test should be conducted at Babina Clinic of Imphal, a private clinic with the facility.

The panel sends samples for viral load test after 10 instances are collected.

“If the government failed to streamline functioning of the control society and the panel, the NGOs will launch an agitation,” K, Meghachandra, an AIDS worker, said.

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