In late March 2020, the government of India ordered a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. Measures taken by the government, such as a ban on public transport and authorization to travel for medical supplies, caused many challenges for people living with HIV – especially those living in the poorest areas. Eldred, Maitri and Loon share their stories on the difficulties faced by people living with HIV in accessing HIV and related services during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in India...
New Delhi, India
I am the founder and President of the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) and a regional coordinator for south Asia at the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. I am living with HIV, I have hepatitis C, I have tuberculosis and I am a drug user: I am many key populations in one.
When COVID-19 started in Wuhan, I was very worried about it reaching my country. Before India’s lockdown, we wrote to our National AIDS Control Organization to ask what it would do when the government announced a total lockdown when there would be no public or private transport on the roads. How would we reach the ART centre to access our monthly quota of ARVs? We cannot afford to miss even a single dose. We have to take our ARVs every 24 or 12 hours, no matter what; it’s non-negotiable.
“We suggested dispensing multi-month supplies of ARVs, which was eventually done, as well as allowing networks, organizations and others to be involved in ensuring that people have access to ARVs. ”
“For 45 days, three of us ran around on our motorbikes for 10-12 hours a day delivering medicine while three staffers in the office phoned clients and sorted out medicines. For the first 10 days, we had no permit. ”
“We do not know when this will end. If we focus solely on COVID-19, we might save people from COVID-19, but others will die due to HIV, hepatitis or something else. ”