Press Club of India, Indian Tehalka News
Following an acute shortage of the first-level HIV testing kits in the State, testing has almost come to a standstill in the government-run Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) in several districts. A few centres that have the kits are testing only emergency and high-risk cases.
Counsellors and staff at ICTC centres confirmed to The Hindu that they had to face the wrath of patients for sending them back without testing. As on Thursday, a stock-out of the kits was reported from Ramanagaram, Mandya, Chickballapur, Yadgir, Chamarajanagar, Yadgir and Koppal districts.
Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) Project Director Shanta L. Hulmani, who admitted there is a shortage, said the issue was being sorted out.
“Testing kits are actually supplied by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and there is a delay from their side. As an alternative, we have procured Kit-4 with financial assistance from the National Health Mission (NHM), and the stocks will be disbursed to the centres shortly. This kit can be used as an alternative to the first-level kit,” she said.
Said Ramanagaram counsellor Fayaz Ahmed: “We are just collecting the serum samples and asking the patients to come back for the reports. Many patients are upset and are shouting at us. Also, there are chances of them not coming back for the reports and it is difficult for us to trace them if they are tested positive.”
There are 565 ICTCs for the HIV-affected where they are tested for free. The first-level testing kits (SD Bioline) are vital, as the result of this test is the basis for further investigations, said another counsellor from Mandya.
Though the shortage has not affected private hospitals, many people from the lower income families cannot afford testing in these private laboratories. Karnataka has been repeatedly facing a stock-out of testing kits and HIV drugs in the past few years.