Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Drugs shortage haunts HIV-positive community


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ART therapy

Mains level : Not Much

People living with HIV are facing an acute shortage of life-saving drugs, say protesters who have been camping outside the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) office.

What is NACO?

  • The NACO established in 1992 is a division of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • It provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies.
  • It is the nodal organisation for formulation of policy and implementation of programs for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in India.

Functions of NACO

  • Along with drug control authorities and NACO provides joint surveillance of Blood Bank licensing, Blood Donation activities and Transfusion Transmitted infection testing and reporting.
  • NACO also undertakes HIV estimations biennially (every 2 years) in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Medical Statistics (NIMS).
  • The first round of HIV estimation in India was done in 1998, while the last round was done in 2017.

Why in news?

  • Activists allege rationing of medicines, arbitrary change in the drug regimen and even complete deprivation of life-saving paediatric drugs.
  • They fear that treatment will be interrupted, leading to drug resistance and deaths from AIDS.

NACO stand

  • The protesters noted that the NACO, in its public communication, had claimed that 95% of the recipients had not faced any shortage.
  • Going by the figure, 5% of 14.5 lakh, or 72,500 people, are being affected by the current shortage and stock-out.
  • The impact is severe and far-reaching.

What drugs are protestors talking about?

  • Protestors are for a stock-out of ART (antiretroviral) drugs such as Dolutegravir 50 mg, Lopinavir/Ritonavir (adult and child doses), and Abacavir in several states.

What is ART?

  • The medicines that treat HIV are called antiretroviral drugs.
  • There are more than two dozen of them, and they fall into seven main types.
  • Each drug fights the virus in your body in a slightly different way.
  • Research shows that a combination, or “cocktail,” of drugs is the best way to control HIV and lower the chances that the virus will become resistant to treatment.

Back2Basics: HIV/AIDS

  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
  • First identified in 1981, HIV is the cause of one of humanity’s deadliest and most persistent epidemics.
  • It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex, or through sharing injection drug equipment.
  • If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
  • The human body can’t get rid of HIV and no effective HIV cure exists.

Treating HIV

  • However, by taking HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), people with HIV can live long and healthy lives and prevent transmitting HIV to their sexual partners.
  • In addition, there are effective methods to prevent getting HIV through sex or drug use, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).


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