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The importance of consistent HIV health sector messaging

The current COVID-19 crisis has raised concerns about HIV treatment supply in Australia. Despite continued assurances that supply is not, nor is likely to be compromised, rumours to the contrary persist.

This speculation has the potential to raise anxiety levels and cause consumer panic. Maintaining message consistency across the HIV health workforce is vitally important at this time.

When patients or customers register concern about the supply of HIV medications, please reassure them with the following messages:

  1. The pharmaceutical companies that supply antiretrovirals (ARVs) in Australia have given assurances that there is no shortage. There are enough HIV treatments in the country right now to meet the needs of people with HIV for many months.
  2. Stock-outs or delays in re-stocking ARVs at a local pharmacy does not mean that national supply is limited.
  3. In the unlikely event of an impending shortage of a particular ARV, the TGA would add it to this publicly available list and then take action to ensure ongoing access for people living with HIV taking that medication. NB: There are no ARVs currently on this TGA list.
  4. It is important to keep taking HIV treatments as prescribed. People with HIV should not skip doses or share medication with friends who are worried about their own supply.
  5. Prescriptions for ARVs are currently limited to two months’ supply at a time and this is standard for everyone. To minimise trips to the pharmacy, arrangements are in place so people living with HIV can have their medications posted to them. For more information about this issue please talk with your pharmacist.

NAPWHA has issued this communication with Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) on 3 April 2020.

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