Alliance India’s COVID-19 Response: Ensuring HIV services for the key population during the lockdown period

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Recently, Alliance India’s Samarth programme responded to an urgent situation and saved a person from a tragic fate. Samarth is a community-led programme on HIV screening and treatment linkage for men who have sex with men (MSM) and the transgender (TG) communities.

Samarth clinic in Hooghly, West Bengal received a desperate call from a young Kothi (effeminate boy) named Sajal (name changed) who urgently wanted to undergo HIV screening. He was extremely agitated because his intimate partner just had been tested HIV positive. Anxious and uncertain, he was considering ending his life.

Gauging the seriousness of the situation, the counsellor along with the field team arranged for HIV screening at a nearby testing centre despite lockdown challenges. Samarth team mobilized an ART support van plying for emergency distribution of the antiretroviral medication and managed to reach Sajal. Post the HIV screening, Sajal was guided to the government Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre and on the same day, he went for HIV ELISA test, a test for detecting the HIV antibody. Sajal was confirmed seropositive but with the support of Samarth team and the counsellors, he remained brave. He was also diagnosed with the second stage of syphilis and the medication was initiated for the same.

“I might have taken my life if you would not have come. I am indebted to you all”, said Sajal to the Samarth team.

At present Sajal is undergoing treatment for sexually transmitted infections and has been enrolled with pre-antiretroviral treatment. Samarth Hooghly Clinic team is in regular contact with him and providing the required support.

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