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'AHF/India Cares' Provides Second-line AIDS Drugs to Activists in India
Date:11/6/2007

Unavailable at NACO ART Centers, Group Provides Patients Free Second-line ART

NEW DELHI, India, Nov. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which operates free AIDS treatment clinics in India (as AHF/India Cares) that provide treatment, care and support services to over 5,000 Indian clients, is honored to announce that it is also now providing lifesaving second-line antiretroviral treatment (ART) free to Indian AIDS activists whose initial, or first-line, AIDS drug regimens have failed them. As AIDS treatment access has increased in India, Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, the need for access to more effective --- and currently more costly --- second-line AIDS drug therapies has increased dramatically. And as an increasing number of patients are developing resistance to their initial AIDS drug regimens, the need to switch to more clinically-appropriate treatment regimens has become a critical priority.

More than 2.5 million people are now estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in India today. India's National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) is currently providing first-line ART to slightly more than 100,000 people living with HIVAIDS. However, for those patients needing second-line AIDS treatment, NACO does not provide such potentially lifesaving AIDS treatments. India's media recently reported that NACO-provided first-line treatment is failing up to 50% of HIV/AIDS patients in Delhi, and the number in need of second-line treatment is increasing daily.

AHF/India Cares operates AIDS care treatment and support centers in Mysore, New Delhi and in Guwahati, Assam State in partnership with NACO. Since March 2007, AHF/India Cares has been providing free second-line ART to AIDS activists and clients in need; today this initiative has added a new lease on life for 30 patients who had formerly been cared for and provided their first-line antiretroviral treatment at the NACO ART centers.

"I am pleased that AHF/India Cares has been able to provide these few patients with access to much-needed second-line treatment, but extremely saddened that the need in India is so much greater than we, or any one NGO care provider, could possibly meet," said Chinkholal Thangsing, M.D., Asia Pacific Bureau Chief for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and who is based in New Delhi. "As an HIV/AIDS medical treatment provider, I see firsthand how the full spectrum of AIDS treatment can improve and save the lives of people living with HIVAIDS. I strongly urge NACO to begin delivery of second-line AIDS treatment throughout India."

"I started my first-line ARV medicines in 2001, but after five years, first-line drugs were not working and I was admitted in hospital for a long stay --- four months," said Kumar, a Delhi resident who has known he was HIV positive for seven years, and whose CD4 count was zero when he first tested. "According to the doctors, I needed to take second-line treatment to save my life. I came to know about AHF from NACO and at AHF they started me on second-line drugs, within one month I was better already. I would like to give a message to our government that they should pay some attention and increase their involvement in getting second-line treatment to those who need it."

"Without access to second-line therapies, I would not be alive today", said Francisco Xavier De Melo, President of Love Life Society (Consortium of People with HIVAIDS). "I am very lucky, as very few people in India have access to second-line therapy. It is too expensive --- but it is a matter of life and death for many of us. Positive people throughout India look to NACO to start delivery of such lifesaving second-line treatments urgently."

"AIDS Healthcare Foundation stands in solidarity with the advocates and people of India in urging NACO to launch the provision of second-line therapies immediately," said Terri Ford, AHF Director of Global Advocacy. "In our own clinic in New Delhi, we are trying to save the lives of activists in need of these medications so that they can remain healthy and continue their courageous fight for treatment for all. We know that Treatment Saves Lives and the time is now".

About AHF/India Cares

AHF/India Cares centers provide testing, psycho-social support services and anti-retroviral treatment including both pediatric and second-line treatment. The facilities provide comprehensive HIVAIDS care and treatment and holistic services, and serve as one-stop shops for people living with HIVAIDS (PLHAs).

In the Asia/Pacific region, AIDS Healthcare Foundation currently provides free anti-retroviral treatment services to people in need through its clinics in India, Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia and China.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the US' largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. AHF currently provides treatment, care and support services to more than 61,000 individuals in 19 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at http://www.aidshealth.org


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SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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