Activists say the lack of timely intervention to combat additional infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and meningitis leads to maximum deaths not only in the state but nationally.
Recent data show that Maharashtra continues to record an average of 9,000 deaths among people living with HIV (PLHIV) each year, contributing to at least 15% of the AIDS deaths seen in India annually. Between 2016-17 and 2021-22 (October), the state had recorded more than 47,000 (47,086) deaths in HIV patients.
After registering 9,124 deaths in 2017-18 and 9,754 deaths in 2019-20, a decline was recorded in the Covid pandemic year (7,316). However, a delay in reporting is likely to be to blame for the decline. At the national level, almost 59,000 AIDS-related deaths were estimated in 2019. The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) said in a report earlier this year that deaths had fallen by 66% since 2010 and by 78% since reaching its peak in 2005. .
Ganesh Acharya, a TB and HIV activist, said the number of deaths that had seen a steady decline has now stagnated for various reasons. “A delay in diagnosis combined with a delay in enrollment in antiretroviral treatment stacks the odds against them,” he said.
On World Aids Day, observed on December 1, activists and civil society organizations wrote to NACO stating that PLHIV was dying from AIDS-related diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumocystis pneumonia, and cryptococcal meningitis, a painful fungal infection. in the brain. Eldred Tellis of the Sankalp Foundation said NACO should strengthen preventive therapy for TB and preventive therapy for cryptococcal meningitis as it protects PLHIVs with stage 3 or 4 diseases. The letter stressed that one third of PLHIVs are still present for treatment when their white blood cell count (CD4) drops to less than 200 cells / mm.
An analysis of 7,875 deaths conducted by the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS) in 2017 had shown that half of the deaths occurred within three months of ART onset. “We found maximum deaths in those with CD4 counts less than 100 during registration, meaning they entered a very sick state,” an MSACS official said. But the official said maximum deaths are now being seen in patients who have been in treatment for some time. “They also die of heart attacks, cancer, diabetes and not directly due to AIDS,” the official said, adding that with early diagnosis and treatment, PLHIVs can have an almost normal life expectancy.