PGI turns away HIV positive couple

CHANDIGARH: A day after Vadodara in Gujarat reported the tragic end of an HIV positive family of four that entered into a suicide pact, the shocking news of a couple from Sangrur in Punjab being reportedly denied treatment for the same disease in regions premier health institute emerged on Thursday.

Left speechless at the utter insensitivity of PGI authorities, Sukhpal Singh, 38, and wife Jaspal Kaur, three years younger, have now filed a written complaint with the drop-in centre for people living with HIV and AIDS at State AIDS Control Society in Sector 15, Chandigarh, and medical superintendent of PGI.

Shimona Kanwar, for Times of India.

After testing positive at a hospital in Patiala, the couple was shown the way to PGI for hope. “When we came here, doctors turned us away saying that our nearest anti-retroviral therapy centre was in Patialas Rajindra Medical College and, therefore, we should go there,” said a disheartened Sukhpal.

Unable to see his sister suffer, Sant Ram Singh, Jaspal?s brother added, “My sisters condition is worse. She has been ill for the past one week. When we sought admission in PGIs emergency, we were sent to OPD, which refused her all tests.”

Decrying the turning away of the HIV positive couple in complete violation of National AIDS Control Organisation guidelines, Vineeta Gupta, director, State AIDS Control Organization, said, “For patients convenience, we see to it that they get treatment in the nearest hospital. That is one reason why HIV patients are issued transfer cards to hospitals of their choice to maintain data. On no account can any hospital deny treatment.”

Sensing the gravity of the issue, the director added, “Patients can forward their complaints to our grievance cell that was formed recently to address such issues and more.” On the defensive, PGI denied the allegations.

The patients have been asked to attend OPD for treatment and their tests will follow,” said Manju Wadwalkar, PGIs official spokesperson. Whether or not any damage control follows remains to be seen at the institute that caters to patients from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Only recently, PGI had started the second-line treatment of HIV, unavailable anywhere else in the northern region. Thus, one is left battling the question whether all this upgradation is of any help until and unless end users are benefited.

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