Health Dept Takes Action Against Illegal Sale of HIV Testing Kits
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26 September 2011
By, Umesh Isalkar
Pune , India
Sacks ICTC Counsellor Found Selling Kits; Warns Against Such Activities
The incident of Illegal sale of HIV testing kits, meant for the Integrated Counseling and Testing Centres (ICTC), to private laboratories has jolted the state health officials into action. An alert was sounded in the state after a counsellor attached with an ICTC in Ichalkaranji was recently nabbed selling the kit, which is given free by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to government–run testing and counselling centres across the country.
“Any kind of illegal activity in respect of HIV testing kit will not be tolerated. We have asked all officials involved in testing and counselling work to be wary of such an activity happening on their premises. The counselor, who was nabbed selling the kit in Inchalkaranji has been dismissed from service,” said Dilip Deshmukh, additional project director, Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society.
The case of illegal sale of HIV testing kits came to light in Kolhapur district on September 19, Deshmukh said. “I received a tip that one person in Ichalkaranji is selling the kits to private laboratories. After checking the information from other sources, we laid a trap. Some of our officials were sent to Ichalkaranji. They approached the person and expressed willingness to purchase the kit. The person, in turn, called up another man who would procure the kits for sale. The man came there and asked for Rs 5,000 for 100 kits. The officials negotiated and purchased 100 kits for Rs 4,000. The culprit turned out to be a counsellor who worked with an ICTC centre in Ichalkaranji.”
“We have dismissed the counsellor from service from September 20. A complaint has been registered with the police,” Deshmukh added.
An ICTC is a place where a person is counselled and tested for HIV, on his own free will or as advised by a medical provider. There are now more than 4,000 counselling and testing centres in India, mainly at government hospitals. In Maharashtra, there are 578 ICTCs where testing and counselling is provided free.
The main functions of an ICTC are conducting HIV diagnostic tests, providing basic information on the modes of HIV transmission, promoting behavioural change to reduce vulnerability, and link people with other HIV prevention, care and treatment services.
“The Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society receives the HIV testing kits from NACO. From there the kits are distributed to civil surgeons of 33 districts who, in turn, supply them to the ICTC centres in their jurisdictions,” Deshmukh said.