Apex Sunshine Dialysis Centre has only four beds, but on these beds many lives are thriving, finding their much-needed treatment. A first-of its-kind centre in India, it is dedicated to treating HIV positive patients, who are suffering from kidney failure, without any bias.
The centre, located in Govandi, was started with the intention to serve patients and has been a ray of hope for many HIV positive patients of the city, belonging to all strata of the society. Presently, it does 250 dialysis every month.
“Intense passion, care and love are needed to treat HIV positive patients, but it is still lacking in our society. When the mind-set will change, then we will not need such separate centres for other patients,” said Dr Viswanath Billa, Consultant Nephrologist and Transplant Physician at Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Science.
Billa narrates an incident wherein a Mumbai-based HIV positive girl was on dialysis for months at the centre.
“The 18-year-old girl was an orphan and her parents were also HIV positive. There was no one to take care of her, but her aunt looked after her till her last breath, despite her being HIV positive. That type of love and self-education is needed in our society,” said Billa.
As a piece of advice to the medical faculty, Billa said HIV patients and normal patients can be treated in the same centre, with standard operating procedure and following the universal precautions.
“There is no scientific reason to treat such patients separately. It is definitely possible to treat them together, but we need to rearrange machines and need some isolation. It’s just the mind-set of people which is a hindrance, mostly because there is a stigma associated with it.”
There are lot of dialysis centres across the city that cater to non- HIV patients, Nephritis C and B patient. But, according to Billa, nobody wants to touch HIV positive patients with haemodialysis.
“Most of these patients are put on other form of dialysis called the peritoneal dialysis, which is a different technology and can be done at home. However, all such patients are not suitable for peritoneal dialysis. There are many of them who would need haemodialysis and not peritoneal dialysis. If you do not provide them with the required care, they will die. We have a large numbers of patients who need dialysis at different centres of the city. We started getting lot of enquiries. That’s when we started this centre,” said Billa.
Not just is a separate centre for HIV positive patients a concern, but such strong is the impression of social stigma that it became difficult for the centre to get technicians who can be with patients all the time. However, after sensitising them, the centre succeeded to get technicians.
Dr Rajesh Kumar, Nephrologist at Hiranandani Hospital, said, “Not treating HIV patients for dialysis is more of a social issue than medical. Dialysis technicians and hospitals are treating more infectious disease like Hepatitis B and C than HIV. This centre surpasses this social issue and creates an environment suited for these patients.”
Kumar added that patients with HIV are at a risk of both, acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD), secondary to medication nephrotoxicity, HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN), and immune complex kidney diseases
“HIV patients with kidney failure are denied treatment at every centre and we realised when the numbers of enquiries that came to us for HIV patients,” he said.
Dr Ganesh Sanap, Head of Clinical Operation, Apex Kidney Care Pvt Ltd, said, “This issue is social in nature and so it is important. If you keep such patients with normal patients, then they may not feel comfortable. That’s why we came up with this centre in 2016. It is a first-of-its-kind centre in India.”