A survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 73 countries are at risk of stock-outs of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 24 countries reporting either a critically low stock of ARVs or disruptions in the supply of these medicines. The survey follows a modelling exercise convened by the WHO and UNAIDS in May 2020, which forecasted a six-month disruption in access to ARVs could lead to a doubling in AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa during 2020.
In 2019, an estimated 8.3 million people were benefiting from ARVs in the 24 countries now experiencing supply shortages. This represents about one-third (33%) of all people taking HIV treatment globally. While there is no cure for HIV, ARVs can control the virus and prevent onward sexual transmission to other people.
The survey found a failure of suppliers to deliver ARVs on time and a shutdown of land and air transport services, coupled with limited access to health services within countries as a result of the pandemic, were among the causes cited for the disruptions.
Source: WHO, 6 July 2020