Karnataka’s HIV/AIDS patients demand nutritional support

December 1st, 2009 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Dec 1 (IANS) Around 300 people living with HIV/AIDS staged a protest demonstration, on the occasion of World AIDS Day Tuesday, demanding proper nutritional support to the victims of the disease to save their lives.
The protest was organised by Bangalore HIV and AIDS Forum (BHAF), an open alliance of People Living with HIV (PLHIV), community based organisations (CBOs), NGOs and individual activists fighting for the rights of PLHIV, since 2006.

Members of BHAF also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, asking the government to provide nutrition supplements to PLHIV.

“We want commitment from the government to provide nutritional support for PLHIV. Proper diet and nutrition are essential for people living with HIV,” Jyoti Kiran, a senior member of BHAF, told IANS.

“Since most of the HIV-AIDS patients don’t have resources to provide themselves proper diet, it’s the duty of the government to support them,” she said, near the Gandhi statue at Race Course Road flyover, in the heart of the city where the protest demonstration was staged.

WHO provides guidelines to recommend increased caloric and nutrition intake for adults, pregnant women and children living with HIV and AIDS. Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), in one of its studies, has found conclusive evidence that providing micro and macro nutrients to people living with HIV and AIDS greatly improves their health and quality of life.

“In other words, good food can help PLHIV lead long healthy and productive lives. When parents are healthy and working, children are cared for and fewer suffer as AIDS orphans. Nutrition with treatment can save many lives,” said Satish, another member of BHAF.

“Supplementary nutrition along with anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs through special provision of BPL Cards for PLHIV and families will help maintain immunity and reduce impact of HIV in the society,” he added.

Some of the other demands of BHAF are free second-line ARVs in anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centres in Karnataka, on the lines of states like Goa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala; free treatment for diagnostics and opportunistic infection through the primary health care system for HIV-AIDS patients.

They also want care centres in all districts for care and support of people living with HIV and AIDS; shelter for homeless PLHIV and subsidised housing schemes for PLHIV families who do not have their own homes; and a widow pension for women who have lost their husbands to AIDS related illnesses.

The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has marked Karnataka as a “highly prevalent state”.

The state has 245,000 HIV infected people and 33,000 are suffering from AIDS, according to the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS). However, only 22,000 of these are registered with the society.

“The government needs to support us to fight against HIV-AIDS,” said Manohar Swamy, an AIDS patient, at the rally.

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