Last month there was an acute shortage of tuberculosis drugs. Now, the country is facing shortage of CD4 test kits used in HIV/AIDS programme. CD4 kits are monitoring tools used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients.
An estimated 23 lakh people are living with HIV/AIDS in the country and about six lakh are on anti-AIDS drugs.
The procurement of HIV medicines and medical tools such as CD4 and viral load kits or reagents is undertaken at the Centre through a procurement agent, RITES Ltd, contracted by the Health Ministry.
However, the contract of the procurement with RITES Ltd was not renewed by the Health Ministry or the the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) for almost two years, leading to serious delays in the procurement of TB medicines and CD4 kits.
These kits are essential as people living with HIV need to be monitored every six months, and people who need to start treatment are first monitored for their CD4 count.
Without the monitoring kit there is a delay in treatment in new patients and also existing treatment.
TheNACO's guidelines recommend that people with HIV should start antiretroviral treatment (ART or anti-AIDS medicines) when their CD4 counts fall below 350 CD4 cells/mm.