While helping patients keep track of their treatment, this application will also help hospitals trace them if they go missing midway through the course. Representation pic
Sunita Mehra (name changed), a 21-year-old married HIV-infected woman, lives in Bhendi Bazaar with her toddler, who is also HIV-positive. Both of them were receiving treatment at the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Centre in Sion Hospital, till her son turned two. But it has been eight months since they last stepped into the centre for their treatment and despite repeated attempts, the social workers at the hospital haven’t been able to trace them.
Like them, several HIV patients leave their treatment midway and vanish due to the social stigma attached to the disease. To address the issue for the first time, MSACS has developed two mobile applications, which will be launched on December 1 — the World AIDS Day.
No centralised system
“During registration, many patients provide false names and addresses. We can’t even force them to reveal their identity as we are prohibited to do so to secure their identity. Thus, later when they discontinue, we aren’t able to trace them back. Also, there is no centralised registration process,” said Dr Srikala Acharya, director of MSACS.
The soon-to-be-launched applications will help tackle this problem. Yet to be named, these two apps will not only be useful in tracing the patients, but will also help in providing them counselling and reminders for their medicine. They will also get updates on their treatment diagnosis and about nearby ART centres.
“We have noticed that this year, with proper counselling and regular treatment, the new cases of HIV infections among vulnerable communities have fallen. However, according to data, an increased number of patients from the general public are still falling victim to the disease. Most of this public uses smartphones, so we decided to come up with these two applications,” said a senior officer from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), Mumbai.
One of the applications will provide the patients information about nearby ART centres through Google Maps. The second application, which is the main one, will keep patients updated about their medicines and treatment.
Fix your dose
“Patients are given medicines from ART centres for a month. We have noticed that following it, the patients often forget to collect the next dose of medicine which then affects their regular intake of medicines. Through this application, patients will be sent messages as reminders. Also, there will be provisions where they can fix reminders about their medication. Patients can make queries in the app, which will be addressed by us,” said another officer from MSACS.
HIV infected people in 2015
Pregnant women infected with HIV in 2015
Patients infected with HIV due to transmission from infected mother to baby
Patients infected with HIV due to unsafe sex
Registered patients with ART centres across the city who discontinue their treatment and flee, according to MSACS