The recommendations were made when the commission discovered that certain hospitals did not screen all survivors of sexual assault for HIV.
The Delhi government’s health department received a notice from the DCW requesting information about the number of cases in which HIV tests were performed on both the accused and the survivors, as well as the steps and standard operating procedures (SOPs) being followed to prevent HIV transmission in survivors.
The panel noted that certain institutions were not suggesting HIV tests to all survivors of sexual assault based on the data it had received.
The panel used Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital as an example, which indicated that only a small number of the 180 medicolegal investigations of survivors included HIV testing.
“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 All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rao Tula Ram Hospital, and Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital were all cited as having denied having information on survivors’ follow-up exams.
According to the DCW, only two hospitals from the west district, Acharya Shree Bhikshu Government Hospital and Guru Gobind Singh Government Hospital, have reported that Delhi Police has given them information on the accused’s HIV status.
The Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC), according to the women’s panel, only operated from 9 am to 4 pm, requiring many survivors to return the next day for HIV tests.
In order to safeguard the confidentiality of the survivors’ identities and HIV test results, “several hospitals indicated that SOPs were not being followed,” the report said.
The panel also said that many hospitals failed to keep records on the use of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), the initial HIV defence.
The DCW has advised the government and police to provide immediate HIV prevention and treatment for sexual assault victims.
According to the report, the commission recommended that all hospitals should make it mandatory to assure HIV testing of sexual assault survivors, both at the initial appointment and at follow-up visits at three and six months.”
The commission also suggested that hospitals keep records of all survivors’ cards for HIV testing.
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 check.
The commission also advised the police to inform hospitals and survivors in every district of the accused’s HIV positive status.
The panel has advised the health department to keep ICTCs open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with enough staff, and to require hospitals to retain accurate records of every PEP administered to survivors.
The health department, Delhi government, and Delhi Police have all received the recommendations, and a 30-day Action Taken Report is being requested.
“An eight-year-old girl was brutally raped in the capital. The accused who raped her was HIV positive. Unfortunately, the girl also contracted the virus. A strong and robust mechanism to ensure proper preventive care and treatment of sexual assault survivors for HIV is therefore the need of the hour,” said DCW chief Swati Maliwal.
(With inputs from PTI)