As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak spreads around the world it is exposing concerns about the supply of medications manufactured in China. The COVID-19 outbreak and measures to prevent its spread have disrupted manufacturing in China, taking factories offline that are only now slowly ramping back up.
So if you’re taking HIV medication or are on PrEP how worried should you be? Experts say the answer largely depends on how long these disruptions continue in China and whether the outbreak becomes widespread in other countries critical to the drug supply chain, including India.
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) recommends people living with HIV make sure they have a month’s supply of medication to act as a buffer if they need to self-isolate, feel unwell and guard against supply disruptions.
If you’re on PrEP and are concerned about keeping up with your three-monthly doctor appointments the AFAO recommends you talk to your doctor for more options.
Outside of medication supplies, the AFAO also recommends people who are caring for people with a compromised immune system take extra care handwashing and infection precautions even if they aren’t displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
Those symptoms can range from mild to pneumonia with some people recovering easily while others get very sick very quickly. People with COVID-19 may experience fever, flu-like symptoms (cough, sore throat and fatigue), and shortness of breath.
AFAO recommends doing these simple things to help protect yourself from COVID-19
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after you eat, after going to the toilet and after coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your nose, mouth and eyes
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough (like in the crook of your elbow) and dispose of used tissues
- If you’re feeling unwell avoid contact like touching, kissing, hugging and other intimate contact and check the latest official advice on seeing a doctor or self-quarantining
A face mask is not needed unless you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
As for your other essentials like food, toilet paper and other household supplies, it’s important not to panic buy.
Instead, consider what you really need if you had to stay at home for two weeks, and buy a few extra things over a number of visits to the shops.
Current advice suggests it’s ok to go to public events with large crowds, however this may change and it is sensible to limit close contact with others while you’re there.
AFAO have produced an extensive factsheet to provide information on what you need to know about COVID-19.