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August 25, 2008

Uganda Faces Antiretroviral Shortage

A shortage of antiretroviral (ARV) medications is hindering efforts to treat Uganda’s 1.1 million people living with HIV, The New Times reports. Health officials and advocates said that many first-line drugs are not reaching districts such as Katakwi, Pallisa, Rakai, Soroti, Hoima and Luwero.

According to the article, 42 percent of people living with HIV in Uganda are receiving treatment. However, many drugstores and clinics have been feeling the ill effects of drug shortages since mid-2007. Many positive people report that some sites have gone for months without replenished stock. While the drug Combivir—the backbone of most HIV regimens—remains in steady supply, alternative and supplemental medications are not readily available.

Peter Mugyenyi, MD, a treatment pioneer in Uganda, told The New Times that the drug shortage can be attributed to an inability for drug manufacturers to meet demand.

“The current shortage has nothing to do with the ministry of health,” Dr. Mugyenyi said. “Some of the factories delivering first-line drugs have failed to deliver, but they have assured us that they are addressing the problem.”

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