| The primary health centre at Vaishali. Telegraph picture |
Bihar State AIDS Control Society (BSACS) has decided to start free HIV test facility at all primary health centres (PHCs), and district and referral hospitals within two months.
Earlier, the tests were done at integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTCs) only.
Apart from the HIV testing, other facilities offered at the ICTC centres would be made available at the PHCs, and district and referral hospitals.
The society has decided to create a single window system for HIV testing at these centres. “People would not have to run for different steps of the testing. One needs to provide blood at one place and the test results, too, would be provided from there. Everything will be done under one roof,” said Manoj Kumar Sinha, the joint director, information, education and communication wing of the BSACS.
Sanjeev Kumar Sinha, the project director, Bihar State Aids Control Society, said: “By expanding the HIV testing facility, we would be able to identify an AIDS patients in the initial stage of the disease. This would help in starting treatment early. Many people don’t go for HIV testing owing to the social stigma attached with the disease. Many people fear visiting ICTCs fearing their friends or relatives would come to know about the tests. When the HIV testing facility becomes operational at the PHCs and other hospitals, people can get their tests done without anyone knowing about it. We would keep it a secret,” said Sinha.
Bihar State AIDS Control Society has decided to conduct HIV test of every person that visits PHCs, or district and referral hospitals.
The test would be conducted on blood samples without the knowledge of the person concerned.
“Even if people don’t go for the HIV test at these centres, we would ensure that the test is conducted without letting the person know about it. Even if people provide blood samples for any other tests, we will take a micro unit of the sample to get test done. If the tests prove that the person is suffering from HIV or AIDS, we would start counselling and encourage him to start treatment at the centre,” said a BSACS official.
Bihar has 207 ICTCs, one mobile centre and eight other units running on PPP mode. According to the plan, HIV testing facility would be provided to all 533 PHCs, 38 district hospitals and 70 referral hospitals.
According to experts, the HIV testing facility would also help in identifying the actual number of people afflicted with HIV or AIDS.