Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – As many as 73 countries have warned that they are at risk of running out of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines for AIDS treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey recently conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) before the International AIDS Society’s biannual conference.
Twenty-four countries reportedly have very low ARV supplies or difficulties in getting supplies of the medicines, according to a WHO report quoted by Indonesia Window here on Wednesday.
The survey by the WHO and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) in May estimated that lack of access to ARV for six months could cause AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa to double in 2020 alone.
In 2019, around 8.3 million people were benefited from ARV in 24 countries that are currently experiencing shortages of the drug supply.
That number represents about one third (33 percent) of AIDS sufferers worldwide who are taking ARV.
Although there is no cure for HIV, antiretroviral drugs can control this virus and prevent further sexual transmission to others.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in late 2019, has hampered land and air transportation lines and limited access to health services. As a result, the supply of ARVs to a number of countries has been disrupted.
“The findings of this survey are deeply concerning,” WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Countries and their development partners must do all they can to ensure that people who need HIV treatment continue to access it,” he added.
Reporting by Indonesia Window