HIV/AIDS Drug Shortages Hit Zambia

A doctor at a clinic explains HIV/AIDS medications to a boy in Zambia, where drug shortages are putting patients living with HIV at risk.

James Pursey/EGPAF

Recently on the blog, we discussed stock outs and potential drug shortages in Tanzania and Uganda. Now we are adding one more country to the list—Zambia. In May, the Zambian government reported a shortage of Neverapine and Truvada, both key HIV medications. Since May, patients have been forced to ration their medications, with clinics providing patients with a two-week supply of medication that must last for four.

Felix Mwanza, director of Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC) said in an interview with that the situation is becoming “urgent” and that “patients are not getting their month's supply of drugs and have to settle for two weeks' supply due to rationing.”

Last week, the government announced that it will provide patients with a less-potent alternative, Atripla, to help fill this resource gap.

However, some groups, including TALC, oppose this decision, explaining that Atripla alone is not adequate treatment, especially for patients who have already received a limited supply of Neverapine and Truvada.

The Zambian government has not  said how long it expects the shortage to last or when more supplies will be delivered. Stay tuned to this blog for more updates on drug shortages in Zambia and other regions around the world. 

To learn how you can get involved in efforts to treat and prevent HIV around the world, click here.

Johanna Harvey is Senior Communications Officer for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.