HIV positive patient started on HIV drugs need to take their drugs regularly, lifelong, without any drug holidays. But, they may not remain adherent of not properly counselled. Currently at each Government HIV treatment centre only 2 counsellor are available and they are unable to cope with the work load of hundreds of patients coming each day to the centre. Also, the patients need to know about things like how to avoid infections, proper nutrition, regular laboratory check up, mental health care, financial planning, partner disclosure, planning for pregnancy, etc. To help answer all these questions free of cost, we launched AASHA project.
In high prevalence district MCF appoints outreach worker with a mobile set at government HIV treatment centre. The worker connects patients to the helpline free of cost.
• To identify barriers to adherence to ART medicines and try to improve adherence.
• To increase uptake of referral services.
• To share the workload with government counsellors who are overloaded with large number of clients.
• Improve patients’ physical, mental and social health.
• Give information regarding management, drugs for HIV/AIDS, disclosure, PPTCT, nutrition, mental health issues, etc.
AASHA has received a very encouraging response from all the centres and the plan is to expand the activity to all ART centres in Maharashtra and Bihar. So far we have 15,000 calls from this service.