AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) inaugurated its Center of Excellence – Anti Retroviral Therapy clinic (ART clinic) in New Delhi. To be known as The People’s Clinic the ART center will operate for 12 hours a day, six days a week. The extended hours will serve the general public and incorporate an evening Moonlight Testing shift designed to deliver HIV testing to the most marginalized communities, including LGBTQ, people living with HIV (PLHIV), injecting drug users and sex workers.
“AHF applauds India for recently decriminalizing consensual sex between homosexuals, but HIV and those it affects most are still highly-stigmatized throughout the country,” said Dr. V. Sam Prasad, Country Program Director AHF India Cares. “Building owners repeatedly turned us down due to their fear of HIV, so it’s very inspiring that we overcame numerous obstacles and are opening the clinic today.”
To limit stigma and help make LGBTQ clients more comfortable, the clinic utilizes staff who are part of the LGBTQ community and PLHIV who work to ensure adherence to treatment through specialized peer counseling services. The facility will also be the only ART clinic in India that provides first, second and third-line treatment protocols, as well as up to a six-month supply of antiretroviral medicine to LGBTQ clients who are forced to travel great distances to access treatment. The clinic will offer a safe, stigma-free environment and will be a one-stop shop for a variety of HIV services – Prevention, Testing & Treatment – including Antiretroviral therapy (ART), counseling, extensive laboratory services, consultations with specialists, a pharmacy and free condoms.
Present at the inauguration ceremony, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, Brand Ambassador AHF India said, “This week has been one of the best weeks in the history of India.”
AHF India launched its first ART clinic in India in the year 2007 with the aim to cater to people living with HIV with free HIV services ranging from HIV Testing to Treatment and beyond. The clinic currently serves approximately 1,300 clients and aims to serve over 2,000 clients by the end of the year. With the new Center of Excellence ART Clinic, AHF India Cares is taking yet another stride to complement and strengthen the National AIDS response towards Ending the AIDS by 2030.