More than 70 countries have warned that they are at risk of running out of HIV medication due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the World Health Organization.
Twenty-four countries said they have a “critically low” stock of antiretroviral medicine, or ARVs, largely used as a therapy to treat HIV, or have seen a disruption in their supply chain as a result of the pandemic, the WHO said.
“The findings of this survey are deeply concerning,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “Countries and their development partners must do all they can to ensure that people who need HIV treatment continue to access it. We cannot let the COVID-19 pandemic undo the hard-won gains in the global response to this disease.”
In May, the WHO and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS estimated that AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan African could double due to a six-month disruption of access to antiretroviral medication. That estimate applied only through 2020. While there’s no cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, antiretroviral medication is proven to control the virus and prevent infection to others.