What We Do
Kala Azar-HIV co-infection
After treating more than 13,000 patients since 2007 in Bihar’s Vaishali district, MSF began focusing on the treatment of kala azar-HIV co-infection in partnership with the Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS) in Patna in 2016. The evidence base regarding best treatment practices for coinfected patients worldwide is limited, due to a lack of studies.
The main purpose of the program is to reduce mortality in patients with advanced HIV by increasing access to comprehensive care for those with life-threatening infections. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Bihar State AIDS Control Society, State Health Society Bihar and MSF to provide medical care through a sustainable model of care at Guru Gobind Singh Hospital (GGSH) in Patna.
The treatment focusses on improving the quality of life while prioritising the rights and dignity of those living with advanced HIV. MSF will be responsible for the implementation of all activities and ensure that high-quality services are delivered. MSF will also work on capacity building and supporting the Ministry of Health on the management of advanced cases of HIV. MSF will evaluate and advocate for innovative diagnostic tools and treatment for people living with HIV across India.
Kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis) is a neglected tropical disease that is almost always fatal if left untreated. It spreads through the bite of a sandfly, and disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable communities. People living with HIV are over 100 to 2,320 times more likely to develop kala azar in areas of endemicity, and patients co-infected with HIV and kala azar are at a greater risk of death.
People living with HIV are diagnosed with advanced HIV if they have a CD4 count of less than 200 cells/mm3 or if they have certain opportunistic infections.
People with advanced HIV may have high levels of mortality when they have life-threatening opportunistic infections like Kala Azar or Tuberculosis etc.
We continued to treat kala azar–HIV co-infection in collaboration with the Rajendra Memorial Research Institute in Patna, Bihar. In 2018, we explored better treatment modalities for co-infected patients and started assessing their efficacy. We also started to research the prevalence of asymptomatic kala azar in HIV patients.
In partnership with the state authorities, we have agreed to create an integrated centre for holistic care and treatment of patients with advanced HIV, to offer them a better quality of life and reduce the stigma they face.