Deccan Herald (06.03.2013)
The number of HIV-infected people in India’s Dakshina Kannada (DK) district who visit antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment centers has increased by 35 percent since January, when the Department of Health and Family Welfare and the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society began reimbursing patients for travel to the centers.
According to DK District AIDS Control Officer Dr. Kishore Kumar, approximately 1,600 patients have taken advantage of the travel fare offer. Patients simply show proof of address at an ART center, and an ART center officer immediately reimburses patients who have traveled long distances 80 paise per kilometer; patients within the city receive Rs 40 reimbursement. Caregivers for HIV-infected senior citizens and children under 10 also receive travel fare.
Kumar stated that the department started the program after learning from HIV-infected patients lost to treatment that they quit because they could not afford the cost of travel to ART centers. Stopping or missing ART can result in the HIV virus becoming resistant to drugs, which can render the drugs ineffective in fighting HIV.