FAQ – Antiretroviral Therapy, Others

Q.1. What is Antiretroviral
Ans: Antiretroviral (ART) is substance that stops or suppresses the activity of a retrovirus such as HIV. AZT was the first widely used antiretroviral drugs and now more combinations are reaching the market . Antiretroviral are not a cure but do help manage AIDS as a chronic diseases and perhaps help strengthen a PWA’s health.

Q.2 Is the Government of India planning to introduce anti retroviral therapy free of cost in government hospitals? Who will be eligible for the supply of drugs?
Ans: Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare convened a dialogue with the manufacturers of anti retroviral for HIV/AIDS, with a view to examine the feasibility of procuring and delivering ARVs through the public health system. As a result, a Working Group was constituted, chaired by Secretary Health, with the Director General, Health Services and Additional Secretary & Project Director NACO as members, together with CII, FICCI, and representatives of the different manufacturers of anti retroviral. The Working Group has completed its deliberations. If government does proceed to introduce anti retroviral through the public health system, these will be delivered free of cost to the end consumer in government hospitals. While we estimate over people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of the year, we necessarily have to prioritise the beneficiary population which include HIV positive mothers who access the government health system through the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission clinics, HIV positive children below 15 years of age, and full blown AIDS cases who seek treatment in government hospitals.

Condom Promotions

Q.1. What is a condom and how does it work?
Ans: A condom is a sheath generally prepared from the latex obtained from rubber trees, Condoms undergo strict electronic quality control, which make them very reliable. A new condoms has to be used for every sexual act and a condom should never be reused.

Q.2. How effective are condoms in preventing the spread of HIV?
Ans: During sexual intercourse , semen or vaginal secretions, which may contain HIV, transfer the virus from one partner to another. Use of condom prevents contact of the semen with the vagina and cervix and vice versa and therefore serves as a mechanical barrier between the body secreations of two partners. Condoms if used correctly and consistently (a new one for every single sexual act) are very effective in preventing HIV infections.

Q.3. Are there separate condoms for male and female?
Ans: Male condom are more popular and widely available but there are condoms manufactured for female too. Female condoms are not freely available in India and are very expensive. They are bulkier than the male condom. The advantage of a female condom is that the choice of using condom or not can be made by the female.

Q.4. Can balloons be used instead of condoms?
Ans: Condoms are available free of cost at Health centres or for a small amount in all pharmacies and are meant as a protection. No other substitute should be used since the main purpose of using condom will be lost

HIV-TB Co-infection

Q.1 How does infection with TB affect the HIV/AIDS scenario?
Ans: As the HIV infection progresses, the CD4 lymphocytes decline in number and function. Therefore, the immune system is less able to prevent the growth and spread of the TB bacilli. As a result, disseminated and extra-pulmonary TB disease is more commonly seen in the later stages. Nevertheless, pulmonary TB is still the most common form of TB even in HIV-infected patients. Many studies have shown that pulmonary involvement occurs in 70-90 percent of all HIV/AIDS patients with TB.

Q.2 How does treatment of TB differ in HIV infected and HIV uninfected individuals?
Ans: In general, anti-TB treatment is the same for HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected TB patients, with the exception of the use of thiacetazone. Thiacetazone causes severe cutaneous reactions that may be fatal and hence should be avoided. Patients who complete treatment show the same clinical, radiographic and microbiological response to short-course treatment irrespective of whether they are HIV positive or negative. Self-administration of treatment is associated with higher case fatality rates. Directly Observed Treatment–short course (DOTS) is therefore even more important for HIV-infected TB patients. Treatment with DOTS for HIV-infected TB patients improves their quality of life, and also has been shown to prolong their life span. DOTS can prevent emergence of MDR -TB and reverse the trend of MDR-TB.