Room number three in the Lingasugur Government General Hospital is where Lingappa, the general OPD doctor attends patients. A huge crowd can be seen throughout the day outside his room. Hari Prasad (name changed) has been waiting in the queue with his documents from more than an hour. “It is very difficult for me to tell the doctor about my problem like this in front of everyone. They should have a separate doctor for us,” he said.
He is an HIV positive patient from last three years.
“Whenever I come, they tell me to go to some other district. They have nothing here except the tablet,” he added.
The hospital does not have an antiretroviral officer from last three years. Patients are either treated by the general OPD doctor or the anesthesiologist. They themselves say that they have no proper knowledge of HIV treatment. HIV positive people are more prone to infectious diseases. The process of treating them in such diseases is different from treating a non-HIV person.
Mohd Irfan, the anesthesiologist said, “We studied about this only in our under graduation. After that our specialty became completely different. We are not at all trained for these things. So when these patients come, if we remember something basic then only we can manage or else it’s difficult for us.”
Lingasugur in Raichur reports more than 200 cases of HIV positive are reported annually. However, no Antiretroviral Officer has been appointed from last three years. Patients collect medicines from the general OPD doctor and have little or no idea of what problem they have.
As per the reports of antiretroviral therapy (ART) center around eight to ten people come every day to the Government Hospital of Lingasugur for HIV testing. There have been 211 reported cases of HIV positive in April 2018 to January 2019. This includes seven deaths as well. In 2017, 230 positive cases of HIV were reported against 285 reported cases of 2016. This includes 12 and 52 deaths as well.
Rudragauda Patil, the taluk health officer said, “Since two to three years the position for ART officer is vacant because doctors are not coming to government services. Secondly, we informed to district administrative authority. They are conducting walk-in interviews but still, doctors are not coming to government services.”
Hari Prasad also said that he requested the counsellor of the ART center a number of times for a doctor but so far no doctor has been appointed.
The counselor, Mahadeva Patil said, “Letters were sent to Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society, but no replies are received so far.”
Jyoti Kumar has been working for HIV patients in Bangalore from the last twenty years. She said that the problem of not have an ART officer is not only restricted to rural areas. “We didn’t have a doctor in KC General Hospital for a long time but now there is a doctor. In Victoria Hospital there is no doctor from last six months,” she added. She also said that salary is the major reason behind this.
“Our lives are pennyworth, who cares!” said Hari Prasad.