Just before the 2009 International AIDS conference got underway, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) released a report detailing HIV drug shortages in Africa that could threaten to unravel the fragile gains made in recent years putting patients on treatment across the developing world.
The MSF report says that “disruptions in the supply of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs and other essential medical items in at least six African countries are putting HIV patients’ lives at risk. Funding gaps and supply management problems have led to the delay, suspension, or risk of suspension of the supply of life-saving HIV drugs.”
Those findings confirm reports we have highlighted on this blog before—that the global economic crisis threatens to cause treatment interruptions for HIV patients across the developing world. This development could put millions of lives at risk and raises the prospect of increased drug-resistance.
“All around us, clinics stop enrolling patients because there are just not enough ARV supplies,” says Eric Goemaere, MSF Head of Mission in South Africa. “The waiting lists are growing by the day, risking that patient die before they start ARVs. It’s unbelievable that a relatively well-functioning ARV programme has been allowed to be crippled in the space of just a few weeks.”