Yes, PLHIVs should worry.
Seventy-three countries warned that they are “at risk of stock-outs of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”. This is according to a new survey from the World Health Organization (WHO), which also found that 24 countries already reported having “either a critically low stock of ARVs or disruptions in the supply of these life-saving medicines.”
While there is still no cure for HIV, ARVs can control the virus and prevent onward sexual transmission to other people.
WHO did not name the affected countries in its survey.
According to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, this is “deeply concerning.” “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.”
About 38 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV.
As FYI: Even prior to the release of the WHO statement, on July 2, Outrage Magazine already sent an email to the office of Department of Health (DOH) Sec. Francisco Duque III, with the National AIDS and STD Prevention and Control Program (NASPCP) and Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) Cc’d.
Four days later – and as of press time – no response/s has/have been received.
Various HIV-related services offered in the Philippines have been stalled – e.g. community-based HIV screening, with HIV service providers lamenting the lack of clear guidelines/protocols on how to do this coming from the DOH.
But DOH itself already admitted the ill effects of Covid-19 to HIV-related services in the Philippines.
In June, a letter signed by Usec. Dr. Myrna Cabotaje from Department of Health (DOH) to Outrage Magazine noted the impact of Covid-19 on HIV program implementation. Specifically: Prevention services were reduced by 20% to 30%; HIV testing services reduced by 20% to 80%; viral load testing reduced by 42%; and ARV refill services reduced by 5%.