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Adapting to adversity: insights from a stand-alone human immunodeficiency virus testing centre in india during the covid-19 pandemic

Authors:Sumathi Muralidhar*, Abhishek Lachyan
Int J Biol Med Res. 2024; 15(1): 7750-7755  |  PDF File

Abstract

Background: The global healthcare landscape confronted unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Materials and Methods: This study explores how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted healthcare services in India, with a focus on the Stand-alone HIV Testing Centre (SA-ICTC) at Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, during the period from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. Amid the pandemic, specialized clinics for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Reproductive Tract Infections (RTI) saw a decline in outpatient attendance, while the SA-ICTC faced unique challenges. Results: To address these challenges, innovative solutions were implemented, including alternate-day duty rosters, leading to increased staff efficiency and reduced errors. The study noted a 47.9% reduction in the total number of HIV tests conducted, although the proportion of HIV-positive clients accessing services remained stable. Referrals from STI clinics and Targeted Intervention sites decreased, while referrals from the Tuberculosis (TB) center remained consistent. Client categories accessing ICTC services decreased, except for referrals from Facility Integrated Counseling and Testing Centres (F-ICTC). Conclusions: This research underscores the intricate interplay between COVID-19 and HIV, prompting positive changes in healthcare work ethics, documentation practices, and service delivery. It emphasizes the significance of strategic supply chain management, recommending a 1-2-month buffer of testing kits and consumables in HIV testing facilities to ensure uninterrupted service delivery during crises, thus safeguarding the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations.