New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) A considerable reduction in deaths and increasing survival has been observed for the patients living with HIV who seek care at the ART clinics across the country, as per a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
Anti-retroviral treatment (ART), the multi-drug treatment for HIV infection, is provided free to adults and children living with HIV across India by NACO.
The first report on the "Impact Evaluation of Antiretroviral Treatment, under the National AIDS Control Programme in India", was released on Wednesday by ICMR Director General Secretary, Health Research, Balram Bhargava, and Additional Secretary, Health, and NACO Director General Alok Saxena, presents the first national-level ART impact evaluation (ART-IE) of the free ART programme.
This NACO-commissioned study evaluated the impact of the programme on various parameters at 396 ART centres across the country for the period 2012-2017.
The study demonstrated the high impact of anti-retroviral treatment and showed that the chance of death was halved among people on ART after 5 years of treatment. The probability of tuberculosis was also lower among persons on ART as compared to those with no ART.
The cohort of people who had initiated ART in 2012 and 2016 and continued taking treatment underwent viral load testing and over 90 per cent showed that the virus in their blood was adequately suppressed. Over 70 per cent of beneficiaries of ART reported 'good' or 'very good' quality of life overall and 82 per cent were productively employed.
The report provides programmatic directions to improve access to care and enhance prevention efforts and helps guide research for future interventions needs especially in emerging pockets of HIV infection in different parts of India.