AIDS deaths could double in sub-Saharan Africa due to COVID-19
14 Mai, 2020, 07:37 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
"The pandemic highlights the urgent need for all countries to invest in strong health systems and primary health care, as the best defense against outbreaks like COVID-19, and against the many other health threats that people around the world face every day".
In 2018, an estimated 470,000 people died of the immune deficiency syndrome in countries south of the Sahara - 61 per cent of global AIDS deaths that year.
One driver of progress in lower-income countries was improved access to services to prevent and treat HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, as well as some neglected tropical diseases such as guinea worm.
Investigative reports in many countries show severe disruptions in healthcare routines in several countries due to the lockdowns imposed and the diversion of healthcare services to the COVID-19 response. He attributed the risk to the HIV services that are closed or unable to supply antiretroviral threapy "beacause of disruptions to the supply chain, or because services simply become overwhelmed".
In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 25.7 million people were living with HIV and 16.4 million (64%) were taking antiretroviral therapy in 2018.
When treatment is adhered to, a person's HIV viral load drops to an undetectable level, keeping that person healthy and preventing onward transmission of the virus. "We must also ensure that global supplies of tests and treatments continue to flow to the countries that need them", the WHO Chief said.
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With a six-month disruption, estimates of excess AIDS-related deaths in one year ranged from 471,000 to 673,000.
Shorter disruptions of three months would see a reduced but still significant impact on HIV deaths.
Disrupted services could also reverse gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. COVID-19 could potentially double the number of malaria deaths in the Sub-Saharan region this year compared with 2018. Each model also considered the extent to which a disruption to prevention services, including suspension of voluntary medical male circumcision, interruption of condom availability and suspension of HIV testing, would impact HIV incidence in the region.
With services now at maximum capacity in trying to support the COVID-19 response, HIV/AIDS patients are now at risk for treatment interruptions.
The World Health Statistics have been compiled primarily from publications and databases produced and maintained by WHO or by United Nations (UN) groups of which WHO is a member, such as the UN Interagency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.
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