HIV and Aids patients will soon be able to travel free on Delhi’s buses in a major new initiative to give them Below Poverty Line cards. If the Delhi Government gives the plan the okay, the cards usually given to under-privileged people living in the capital, will also be rolled out to HIV and Aids patients, qualifying the for free travel on Delhi Transport Corporation buses and in future on Delhi Metro. The decision taken by Delhi State Aids council will help about 6,500 HIV and Aids patients in the national capital, not just with transport but also with costs for some medical procedures. "Apart from ensuring nutritional support, on production of these cards they will also be allowed free travels in DTC buses, free CT scans, MRI and Ultrasound,” said Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia. She said requests have also been received to allow patients free travel in Metro Rail and the matter will be taken up with Dehli Metro Rail.
The BPL cards entitle people living below the poverty line to several benefits including help towards the cost of foods and housing. The financial burden on the state government will be very small, reports the Indian edition of Zee news, because funding in cases of HIV control and treatment comes from the central government through the National Aids Control Organisation. The council also announced yesterday plans to open four new testing laboratories with Nucleic Acid Test capabilities which will reduce the period of time taken to confirm whether a person is HIV positive or not. The four NAT Labs (Nucleic Acid Test) will be opened in regional blood centres and will also be connect labs for the other Delhi government hospitals. "The samples from linked blood bank shall be collected by the selected vendor himself; the hospital designated for NAT Lab has to provide adequate space in their blood banks for NAT Lab and the running expenditure of the lab will be borne by the designated hospitals. For the HIV/AIDS children care homes will be made available," Walia said after the meeting. "We have to think for launching a mass campaign to educate people about Aids," she added as she launched CDs and educational kits to raise awareness about Aids and HIV.
Across all of India 2.31 million adults are living with Aids, according to a 2008 report by the Indian government’s AIDS organisation – NACO (National AIDS Control Organisation).
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children