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SC notice to Centre, States on treatment of AIDS patients

August 04, 2003 15:23 IST
Last Updated: August 04, 2003 16:25 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and all States on a public interest petition alleging that AIDS patients were given no treatment at any of the government hospitals and 'simply left to die'.

A bench comprising Chief Justice V N Khare and Justice S B Sinha also issued notices to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and all Union Territories on the petition filed by Voluntary Health Association of Punjab (VHAP).

VHAP, through counsel Colin Gonsalves, contended that India has an estimated 55 lakh (5.5 million) HIV infected persons, most of them poor.

"As things stand today, a poor HIV positive person requiring hospitalisation and drugs, receives no treatment in any public hospital and is simply left to die," it said,

It sought a direction from the court to the governments to recognise and implement the right of the AIDS patients to treatment and health as their fundamental right and provide free and equitable access to Anti Retro Viral (ARV) treatment to HIV positive patients.

With ARV drugs, a HIV positive person could now have hope for a remarkably enhanced lifespan, it said.

Referring to United Nations and World Bank statistics, VHAP said it has been projected that by 2015, India is likely to have an infected population of 3.50 crore (35 million) persons.

Referring to emergency treatment measures taken by various Third World countries like Brazil to reduce their projected AIDS patients by half, the petitioner said India has an edge over all these countries.

Out of the 12 drugs recommended by the World Health Organisation to fight the AIDS virus, 10 were manufactured by Indian pharma companies, the petitioner said and added that due to absence of demand from government hospitals, Indian companies were on the verge of abandoning their research for anti-AIDS medicines.

Warning that almost everyone was at risk of contracting AIDS, the petitioner said the government must take up treatment aspect in the fold of its AIDS policy.

More reports from Punjab

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