The COVID-19 pandemic could affect availability and distribution of antiretroviral medicine used to treat HIV, UNAIDS said Monday.
A recent survey conducted by UNAIDS showed the impacts that lockdowns and border closures imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus will impede supplying prescriptions, particularly to low- and middle-income countries.
But the survey said that measures can still be taken to mitigate the risks.
“It is vital that countries urgently make plans now to mitigate the possibility and impacts of higher costs and reduced availability of antiretroviral medicines,” Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said in Monday’s press release.
“I call on countries and buyers of HIV medicines to act swiftly in order to ensure that everyone who is currently on treatment continues to be on it, saving lives and stopping new HIV infections,” she said.
UNAIDS said it is working with global partners to fundraise to try to offset the costs of sourcing material for these drugs and transporting them, but that partnership with governments in question will be necessary.
Roughly 24.5 million people were dependent on antiretroviral drugs in 2019, according to UNAIDS, which also estimates that a six-month disruption of availability of these drugs could lead to 500,000 additional AIDS-related death in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
Source: Voice of America