The economic crisis has disrupted HIV prevention and treatment programmes, including causing shortages of anti-retroviral drugs, a report by UNAIDS and the World Bank said Monday. "In 22 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and Central Asia, and Asia and Pacific, disruption of HIV prevention and treatment programmes is expected over the course of this year as a result of the global economic crisis," said the report.
Eight countries were already facing shortages of anti-retroviral drugs or other disruptions, added the report, which compiled responses from 71 countries where 3.4 million people receive treatment.
It added that in 34 countries, respondents said there is already an impact on prevention programmes.
Besides concern over external funding for treatment programmes, job losses and falling incomes are making health care more difficult to afford.
"This is a wake-up call which shows that many of our gains in HIV prevention and treatment could unravel because of the impact of the economic crisis," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
"Any interruption or slowing down in funding would be a disaster for the four million people on treatment and the millions more currently being reached by HIV prevention programmes."