The effect of covid on health will harm the fight against the disease
The coronavirus pandemic is going to cause “a more than likely setback” in the fight against HIV due to the “severe effect” it is having on health services and the prevention of the AIDS virus, experts warn.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, the AIDS Study Group (GeSIDA) of the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (Seimc), indicates this Monday that, although these effects will not be known in a more concrete way until next year, an international study confirms the reduction of HIV diagnostic tests.
The study cited by GeSIDA, carried out between health and prevention services in 34 European countries, including Spain, between the last months of March and August, shows that 95% of those surveyed said they had carried out tests on less than half the number expected from people during the first months of the pandemic.
A trend that continued, although to a lesser degree, during the summer when measures to deal with the coronavirus were less strict in most countries, GeSIDA explains in a statement.
With the second wave and the new mobility restrictions in place, experts believe that the situation “may be similar” to then.
And it is that “in chronic infections such as HIV, delayed diagnosis and treatment can have long-term consequences” not only for patients but also for the global advances made against the virus, according to the president of GeSIDA, Esteban Martínez.
For this reason, this group of experts insists on “not lowering our guard” because if each year in Spain there are 3,500 new diagnoses of cases of the AIDS virus, “the effect of the coronavirus may lead to growth in the coming months.”
And one of the areas that, according to the experts, “can most notice” the effects of the covid-19 pandemic is prevention, as in the case of pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP, which in Spain “had begun to work but it has been left as a secondary issue or even paralyzed. “
Where Spain “most needed to improve” before the pandemic was in the diagnosis to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals: 90% of the population with diagnosed HIV infection; 90% of them are on antiretroviral treatment, and of the latter, 90% have suppressed viral load.
In this sense, it indicates that according to the latest report prepared by the National Epidemiology Center of the Carlos III Health Institute, almost 87% of the people the virus would know their diagnosis, which leaves 13% of people who do not know they have the infection.
Of the people living with HIV and who know their diagnosis, 93% are on antiretroviral therapy and 90% of these would have suppressed viral loads, thus achieving these two objectives.
SIDS emphasizes that it is “important” to ensure that the response to other infectious diseases is not compromised by the coronavirus pandemic and urges taking as an example the response strategy against COVID-19 in issues such as testing or contact tracing for use in the fight against HIV.