Re-imbursement of travel fare gives HIV treatment centres a boost

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Mangalore, June 7: The response for the scheme of reimbursement travel fare for HIV positive patients, who visits anti-retro viral treatment (ART) centres for therapy, has been good in Dakshina Kannada. The scheme was launched by the department of health and family welfare and Karnataka State Aids Prevention Society (KSAPS) in January 2013.

Before the launch of this scheme, many poor HIV patients, mainly those residing in rural areas, did not visit ART centres regularly for treatment as they couldn’t afford the travel fare from their homes to the centres. Six ART centres are situated in different parts of DK district, including two centres in Mangalore city. Dr Kishore Kumar, DK district AIDS control officer, told that an average of 60 HIV patients visit each ART centre a day for treatment. There are 1,600 patients registered in ART centres which provide free treatment, he said.

Before the travel fare reimbursement fee scheme was introduced, around 20 patients were skipping their regular visits to ART centres every day. But in the past few months, this number has come down to three, he added.

“Last year, when we contacted patients about why they weren’t visiting ART centres, they’d say they cannot afford the travel expense,” said Dr Kishore. He said patients who travel from rural areas to ART centres are reimbursed 80 paisa per kilometer to and fro, while patients within city limits are given Rs 40.

After undergoing treatment, patients’ travel expenses are reimbursed at the ART centres. Expenses are also reimbursed for one caretaker who accompanies any HIV patients under 10 years or over 60 years of age, said Dr Kishore.

Urging patients to make use of the scheme and free treatment, he said they have to visit the centres once a month. Missing out on a monthly visit is dangerous as it could lead to resistance towards the drug.

Free treatment at these art centres

* Mangalore: Government Wenlock Hospital, Kasturba Medical College and Hospital (under public-private partnership model

* Centres in Bantwal, Belthangady, Puttur, Moodbidri

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