HIV Test Of Sexual Assault Survivors On First Hospital Visit Must: Delhi Commission For Women

The Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) has advised hospitals in the national capital to conduct mandatory HIV tests of sexual assault survivors on their first visit. The recommendations were made after the commission discovered that several hospitals did not screen all survivors of sexual assault for HIV, PTI reported.

“The commission has recommended that all hospitals should mandatorily ensure HIV testing of sexual assault survivors, at the first visit as well as at follow up visits at three and six months,” the DCW said.

The DCW had sent a notice to the Delhi government’s health department seeking information about the number of cases in which HIV tests were done on both the accused and the survivors. The women’s panel also sought information about the steps and standard operating procedures (SOPs) being followed to prevent HIV transmission in survivors.

After analysing the data, it was found that many hospitals were not recommending HIV tests to all sexual assault survivors. In its report, the DCW cited the example of Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital. The hospital, situated in Delhi’s Ashok Vihar, reported that HIV tests were only done in a few cases out of the 180 medico-legal examinations conducted on the survivors.

The Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC), according to the DCW, only operated from 9 am to 4 pm, requiring many survivors to return the next day for HIV tests, PTI reported.

Lack Of Standard Practices

“Many hospitals reported a lack of SOPs being followed to maintain confidentiality of the survivors’ identities and HIV test results,” the DCW said.

The panel also found that many hospitals failed to keep records on the use of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), the initial HIV defence.

The panel also advised hospitals to maintain data of HIV testing cards for all survivors.

“Hospitals like Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital and Rao Tula Ram Hospital do not even maintain data pertaining to HIV tests of rape survivors. Furthermore, follow-up HIV testing and counselling, which must be done after three and six months, is not being done for most survivors and neither is the data for the same being maintained by hospitals,” the panel said.

The DCW said only two hospitals — Acharya Shree Bhikshu Govt Hospital and Guru Gobind Singh Government Hospital — informed that Delhi Police provided them information regarding the HIV status of the accused, PTI reported.

Suggestions For Delhi Police

The DCW has advisied that the government and police must ensure immediate preventive care and treatment of HIV for survivors of sexual assault.

It has been advised that the Delhi Police abide by Standing Order No. 303 of 2019, which directs investigating and supervising personnel to make sure that the accused’s medical examination includes an STD/STI test.

The commission also recommended to the police that the HIV positive status of the accused be communicated to hospitals and survivors in all districts as soon as possible.

The DCW has recommended to the health department to keep ICTCs open 24×7 with adequate personnel. All records of PEP administration to survivors should be maintained in a proper format by hospitals, the panel said.

The recommendations have been sent to the health department, Delhi government and Delhi Police and an Action Taken Report has been sought within 30 days.

(With inputs from PTI)

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