Indian Network for People Living With HIV/AIDS Launches Campaign Against Illegal Clinics
The Indian Network for People Living With HIV/AIDS has launched a national campaign against illegal clinics whose workers claim to cure HIV/AIDS with herbal remedies and homeopathic treatments, Reuters reports. According to Reuters, many HIV-positive people in the country go to the illegal clinics because they cannot afford private treatment. In addition, the government health system often is seen as offering inadequate treatment. Discrimination and stigma against HIV-positive people at hospitals also have caused some people to visit the clinics, which advertise in newspapers, posters, fliers and graffiti.
The network in April received more than 100 complaints from HIV-positive people who said they had visited the illegal clinics for treatment. Nayna Raut, who is working on the campaign, said that some clinics could be charging patients more than $3,000 annually for their treatments. Shabana Patel, a network representative from the state of Maharashtra in western India, said that the illegal clinics are "not only a stumbling block in the fight against AIDS, but also they cheat unsuspecting patients, often poor and uneducated." According to United Nations estimates, about 5.7 million people in the country are HIV-positive but only about 100,000 have access to treatment. The Indian government has approved a $2.8 billion, five-year plan that aims to increase the number of people taking first-line antiretroviral drugs, Reuters reports (Mukherjee, Reuters, 5/29).