HIV treatment crisis caused after new medication is delayed at London airport

Malta Gay Rights Movement appeals to those with spare HIV medicine to come forward, as stocks at Mater Dei pharmacy run low following a delay in the arrival of new medication from a London airport

Malta Gay Rights Movement has appealed for persons with spare Abacavir, a medication used to treat HIV, to come forward since stocks at Mater Dei pharmacy are running low.

On Sunday, MGRM said it had been in contact with the health department regarding the situation, which was first reported on Friday when several HIV patients were left without life-saving medication due to shortages.

MGRM said that the reason given for the delay was a shortage of stock, a situation created by Brexit, and unexpected delays in a London airport.

“Nevertheless, urgent stocks will arrive by early next week, and it is thought that enough medicine has now been retrieved to treat those who have had no medication at all,” the NGO said.

MGRM said that some of the worst affected persons had received medication, alongside, medication sourced by those who had excess pills to spare. “We think that we have managed to alleviate this crisis,” the NGO said.

MGRM encouraged members of the HIV community to speak up, “do not wait for someone else to speak to us and hope for the best.”

“You need to find the courage to speak up for your rights yourself. This is a life-saving medication, you have a right to treatment, just like any other patient receiving treatment for any other condition in Malta,” the NGO said.

On Saturday, the ministry for health said it was investing over €3 million in more advanced HIV treatments than what is currently offered in Malta to provide patients with better care.

The ministry said these new medications should be distributed this week and will continue to reach all patients in the coming days.

“Until patients make the switch, given that the current medication is scarce on the European market, the ministry is taking all possible steps to enable all patients receive the necessary care,” the ministry said.

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