Shortage of HIV Drugs


• In June, PLHIV (People Living with HIV) networks across the country started witnessing an acute shortage of certain Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centres. Among them were pediatric formulations and dolutegravir, the backbone of HIV treatment.


Antiretroviral Therapy:

• People living with HIV need access to treatment with a combination of drugs known as antiretroviral therapy to suppress the virus, preserve their health, and prevent transmission of the virus to an HIV-negative partner.
• Staying on anti-retroviral therapy continuously is crucial to keep the virus suppressed.
• But the virus can mutate into a resistant form if treatment delivery is poor or patchy.
• As treatment activists, we have seen firsthand when antiretroviral therapy treatment is interrupted, people living with HIV develop resistance to their regimen and become vulnerable to life-threatening bacterial and fungal infections — the primary causes of hospitalization and AIDS-related deaths in the community.


Current Status:

• Governments, like the one in India, have made significant strides in ensuring that persons living with HIV have access to testing and antiretroviral therapy (ART).
• While the number of AIDS-related deaths has decreased since 2004, progress has slowed recently, underscoring the need to address health system issues like disruptions in the drug supply chain to eliminate AIDS.
• The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is the nodal agency responsible for overlooking and coordinating activities of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) along with the Central Medical Services Society, which is responsible for centralised tendering and pooled procurement of different HIV products, including Antiretroviral drugs.


Way Forward:

• There is immediate necessary for political will from the Ministry of Health to take necessary measures to ensure that drug shortages do not occur.
• If ignored, the consequences impact the right to health and drive drug resistance, a significant public health challenge for the country