US researchers believe covid-19 has disrupted the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, by diverting resources that set back the goal of eliminating the epidemic in the United States by 2030.
Saturday marks 40 years since the first report on AIDS was brought to public attention.
American experts believe that the United States may soon experience its first increase in infections in years. In the rest of the world, progress in the fight against HIV may also slow, due to interruptions in HIV testing and care, as health professionals have been dedicated to services to combat the epidemic caused by the novel coronavirus. ..
“Covid-19 has caused a major setback,” said former White House Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy Jeffrey Crowley, now at Georgetown University.
The way in which new drugs and other developments were gradually taking control of HIV prompted then-President Donald Trump to announce, in 2019, a campaign to “eliminate” the epidemic in the United States by 2030.
By comparison, COVID-19 killed nearly 600,000 Americans in 16 months, which is close to 700,000 victims of AIDS in the United States over a 40-year period.
Emory researcher Samuel Gaines used statistical data and models for the Atlanta region to project significant increases in some STDs, including HIV, suggesting that in the worst case scenario, the coronavirus could lead to “at least an increase in cases In the next two years. Years.”
Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates a sharp decline in HIV testing and other virus control services.
Items analyzed in a laboratory that handles about a quarter of HIV tests in the country revealed 670,000 fewer HIV tests and 4,900 fewer diagnoses than usual between March 13 and September 30, 2020, compared to the same period a year earlier.
There was also a 21% national reduction in pre-exposure prophylaxis, the type of medication that people at high risk of contracting HIV take to prevent them from contracting the virus through sex or injecting drug use.
Because of the pandemic, and the need to divert resources to fight COVID-19, most health services and community organizations have reduced the number of HIV tests, the first step in finding cases and treating people, so they don’t spread HIV. human immunodeficiency virus.
In addition, in the case of clinics open for testing, some people chose not to attend these services for fear of contracting covid-19.
Surveys conducted indicate that during the early months of the pandemic, many adults at risk of contracting HIV had sex on fewer occasions and with fewer sexual partners.
After new infections fell to about 35,000 in 2019, according to data released this week, and official health organizations indicated a goal of reaching less than 3,000 cases per year in the next ten years, researchers consider this the farthest goal.
Guinness and other scientists have predicted that in the Atlanta area alone there will be about 900 more HIV cases in the next five years than normal gay and bisexual men.
Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that drug overdoses continue to rise and that shared needles are one way to spread HIV.
The data set indicates that the goal of reducing the number of infections by 90% will not be achieved, according to many experts, although health authorities have not yet abandoned this goal.
“We’re still working toward that goal,” said Kevin Delaney, a CDC researcher on HIV/AIDS. “If we have a shortage of millions of HIV tests by 2020, there will have to be an investment to make up for it, but the goals haven’t changed,” he added.
That barrier would be difficult to reach, said Walinsky, a recognized researcher in the field before becoming director of the CDC. Although he considered this possible, he stressed that the necessary resources were still not available.
Official bodies say there are about 38 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and it is estimated that in 2019, 1.7 million were infected with the virus, down 23% since 2010.
All over the world, and especially in Africa, one of the continents hardest hit by AIDS, there have been interruptions in measures to combat the virus.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, the United Nations program to find solutions to combat HIV/AIDS, reports that dozens of countries have reached the proposed targets by 2020 in terms of the number of infections, diagnosis and treatment.
For Kenya-based global health expert Kevin De Kok, achieving these goals globally will be challenging.