Some sobering thoughts.
With the roll-out of anti-retroviral therapy we now have over 4500 people signed up at the ART centre at the Thane Civil Hospital.
I visited the centre to meet with the District Programme Officer of the newly set up District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit - which is part of the Government's National AIDS Control Organisation.
I passed a long snaking line of people - all HIV positive - holding their cards and standing in line to pick up their monthly medications.
This is a programme - which though there are short-comings - is working. Each one of those in the line has the disease that is working to reduce their immunity - but the meds that they are coming faithfully for is making a difference. They are alive. Without the meds most of them would be dead. Its as simple as that.
Having said the basic truth - there is so much room for increasing access. We need not only one centre for the district (for which we are of course grateful - esp. since 2 years ago the number of ART centres in Thane was zero). We need multiple centres. We need places where people can come without fear. We need access to care that can bring the thousands of lives who do not have ART meds into the land of the living.
Yesterday we heard some exciting news. The government is planning to set up "Link ART Centres" where they are willing to have private players start providing ART medications. We are obviously very interested. Keep us in your prayers as we consider the ins and outs of what we had been hoping for all along.