Lockdown distress: People with HIV unable to buy medicines and food

During lockdown, people living with HIV (PLHIV) have not been able to step out and buy critical medicines and food. Many have had no work or wages either.

RJ Radha from Radio Active 90.4 talks to Sreedevi from the Bangalore HIV Forum and Prabhanand Hegde from the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) and highlights the problems faced by the People Living with HIV (PLHIV) community in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. They discuss solutions being implemented to help the community cope.

Sreedevi says the main difficulty for PLHIV is the inability to step out and buy necessary medication during lockdown. To add to this, the people of this community find themselves out of work due to the lockdown, and the prices of the tablets they need have doubled. Vegetables and greens are instrumental for the nutrition of this community, but PLHIV are scared to spend due to low wages and increased prices.

One community member couldn’t take her second line tablets of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for almost 15 days. Sreedevi, with the support of the Radio Active team, made arrangements for an auto driver to ferry her and ensure that she got her daily dose of medicines.

The Bangalore HIV Forum group also regularly shares important information on nutrition for the PLHIV community.

Prabhanand from CFAR explains his team’s approach towards alleviating the difficulties faced by the PLHIV community. His team identifies people affected by the lockdown (through organisations like Milana and the HIV Forum) and distributes dry ration (lentils, oil, wheat) to their doorstep. So far, the team has catered to around 150 families and is looking at extending its services all across Bengaluru.

CFAR refers to the government list of vulnerable classes to reach out to. Their work with different organisations like Milana over the past years made it very easy to gather information and act accordingly.

CFAR’s collaboration with the Disaster Management Committee (DMC) at the state government level focuses on food security and health. If any person is facing difficulties in obtaining tablets, they can get in touch with the DMC and get it home delivered.

The DMC has issued a circular to District Collectors and District Health Officers instructing them to home deliver priority tablets. To maintain the confidentiality of the patient, the patient can contact the counsellor at the ART centre and the medicine can be collected a few paces away from their homes.

Both Sreedevi and Prabhanand urge people to stay at home and protect themselves from COVID-19. They also request people to not panic and instead reach out to the authorities in case of need.

Listen to the Radio Active COVID -19 Special with Sreedevi from the Bangalore HIV Forum and Prabhanand Hegde from the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), in conversation with RJ Radha from Radio Active

[Compiled by Deeksha Sudhindra]

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