CHANDIGARH: In an effort aimed at timely detection of HIV-infected drug addicts through proper screening and testing, the Punjab government has decided to open integrated counselling and testing centres at private drug de-addiction centres. The government plans to set up these under public-private partnership (PPP) mode.
As per the data of National Health Profile-2018, which was released recently, there are 26,841 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV). The state has 12 antiretroviral therapy centres where HIV infected people are given treatment. There are around 84 de-addiction centres located in different parts of the states, of which 53 are licensed private centres. While most of the government drug de-addiction centres already have integrated counselling and testing centres, the private centres are functioning without this facility.
Dr Manpreet Chhatwal, additional project director of Punjab State Aids Control Society, shared that the integrated counselling and testing centres will be opened in private drug de-addiction centres under PPP mode as defined by the National Aids Control Organisation for screening of HIV patients as well as for hepatitis-C. As per the guidelines framed by the health department, proper screening will be done by the staff posted in these centres for HIV and hepatitis-C by using testing kits, which will be provided by National Aids Control Organisation and National Health Mission.
The government will sign an MoU with the private de-addiction centres for which the process will be started by the Punjab State AIDS Control Society. Any person found HIV-positive will be referred to the nearest antiretroviral therapy centres for further treatment and the list will be shared with the nearest government centres by private de-addiction centres every month. Anyone suffering from hepatitis-C will be referred to district civil hospital and government medical colleges for further treatment.
In cases where integrated counselling and testing centres are not available in public health institutes, the existing staff, including laboratory technician\staff nurse will be imparted training by the Punjab State Aids Control Society and civil surgeons office for the screening of patients and necessary kits will also made available.
Punjab health minister Brahm Mohindra said that timely detection would help in providing the required care and treatment to people infected with HIV and hepatitis-C. “We want to ensure that the facility of counselling and testing centres are available at all drug de-addiction centres,” said Mohindra.