Thursday, March 23

HIV diagnoses dropped by 24% during COVID pandemic: report

Every year, December 1 is observed as World AIDS Day around the world to raise awareness of the disease and unite people in the fight against HIV.

As the world continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic and health systems struggle to cope with more cases and new variants, people with other diseases say they feel abandoned.

A recent UNAIDS Report revealed that COVID-19 lockdowns and other restrictions have severely disrupted HIV testing around the world.

In many countries, this has led to sharp drops in HIV diagnoses, referrals to care services, and initiation of HIV treatment.

This was further emphasized by another Report published jointly by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which showed a 24% drop in the rate of newly diagnosed HIV cases between 2019 and 2020.

What is HIV?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically white blood cells called CD4 cells.

HIV destroys these CD4 cells, weakening a person’s immunity against infections such as tuberculosis (TB) and some cancers. If a person’s CD4 cell count falls below 200, their immunity is seriously compromised, leaving them more susceptible to infection.

Someone with a CD4 count below 200 is described as having AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

HIV in Europe

The virus remains one of the most important communicable diseases in Europe, according to the ECDC.

The WHO also revealed that an estimated 2.6 million people are living with HIV in Europe today, of which approximately 572,000 are unaware of their infection.

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And while notable progress has been made in the WHO European Region towards the 90-90-90 targets (90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% of those diagnosed with HIV receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of people receiving virally suppressed ART), progress toward these goals is uneven across the region.

According to the most recent data, the majority (79%) of newly diagnosed people were from Eastern Europe, while the countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EU / EAA) mostly showed a decrease in rates of new diagnoses. .

“HIV remains a major problem around the world. Many, many lives are still needed, and millions of people have lost their lives since the start of the pandemic. Other organizations say the coronavirus has received a lot of attention globally, But there are other threats to health, and HIV and AIDS remain a significant health challenge globally, as well as in many countries in Europe, as well as in the UK, “said Danny Beales, Head of Policy and National AIDS Trust campaigns in the UK, he told Euronews.

UK funding

On Wednesday, the UK government he said he would promise more than £ 23 million (€ 27 million) to end new HIV infections by 2030.

He vowed to expand prevention methods, with increased HIV testing in high-risk populations, including African-American communities, where uptake is low.

“With the advances we have seen in medical research and treatment, and 40 years after the epidemic began, HIV no longer has to be a life-ending disease. People can live long and healthy lives. and it can “Pass the virus on, which I think is an incredibly powerful development, a message to share,” Beales said.

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Watch the full interview with Danny Beales, UK Head of Policy and Campaign for the National AIDS Trust, in the video player above.

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