Nations Most in Need of HIV Antiretroviral Drugs Least Able to Afford It

New study shows that Sub-Saharan countries will increasingly have less money for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

By: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Just this week, it was uncovered that Patient Zero, Gaëtan Dugas — the flight attendant blamed for spreading HIV and AIDS to North America — was actually not responsible for that which he is most famous. This information frees up a lot of guilt and confusion on the matter. And even though decades later, HIV has become a pretty manageable chronic illness in the First World, the most infected are still minorities with limited access to care. A study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that soon, the Sub-Saharan African nations with the highest HIV rates will experience a significant shortage of funding to control and treat the disease. This is especially caused by rising costs in antiretroviral therapy (ART).

These countries most in need of financing to prevent and manage this horrific and expensive virus are Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These account for 70 percent of infected Africans.

They will, the press release notes, be unable to afford treatments like Truvada which prevent the disease (usually) without assistance. From 2015-‘50, they estimate (with data from Spectrum and UNAIDS) that in these nine countries, providing prevention and treatment will cost from $98 billion to $261 billion.

The larger number accounts for increases in the cost of ART. The Harvard researchers think that it’s necessary to “front-load” investments and find innovative funding sources to ensure that costs will be met and thus transmissions reduced.

“The problem of predictable and sustainable funding must be resolved,” professor of global health systems and one of the paper’s authors Rifat Atun said with conviction. “There is an ethical responsibility to continue financing for those receiving ART, and not abandon them to death.”

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