The global economic crisis may interrupt HIV treatment for 1.7 million people living with the virus, according to a World Bank analysis released April 24 and reported on by the Financial Times.

According to the article, the World Bank survey of 69 of the world’s lowest-income countries showed that 15 of them believed they were “highly exposed” to the risk of being unable to continue government-funded antiretroviral treatment programs because of a lack of internal and external resources.

“This new report shows that people with AIDS could be in danger of losing their place in the lifeboat,” said Joy Phumaphi, the World Bank’s vice president for human development and the former health minister of Botswana. “The global economic downturn has taken a wrecking ball to growth and development in the developing world.”

In addition, 34 countries surveyed—which account for three quarters of all people living with HIV—said that the flagging global economy will hamper HIV prevention for high-risk groups.