UNAIDS Interim Regional Support Director, Aeneas Chuma has called on African countries to utilize the strength of diversity in the fight against Covid-19 and HIV/AIDS. Speaking to Health-e News in Johannesburg Chuma said the state also has a major role to play.
As international organisations deal with the threat of a global Covid-19 pandemic, the call is out for citizens to keep those who are dealing with HIV/AIDS or have died in their thoughts. More than 38 million people globally are living with HIV while 24.5 million are accessing antiretroviral therapy. In the last year alone, 1.7 million people became infected with HIV despite health authorities drive to reduce the figure. At least 690 000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in the past year.
While there is some evidence that people who are living with HIV and other chronic illnesses may have an increased risk of experiencing severe symptoms and death from Covid-19 – this young Limpopo woman who was born with HIV says she is doing everything in her power to ensure that she takes her medication daily.
The response to Covid-19 can learn much from how countries in southern Africa handled the HIV pandemic. A new report by UNAIDS says the coronavirus pandemic is a chance to reimagine health systems.
American scientists have developed an injectable drug that blocks HIV from entering cells. They say the new drug potentially offers long-lasting protection with fewer side effects and could eventually replace drug ‘cocktail’ therapies.
The lockdown has impacted on South Africa’s ARV treatment programme, delaying the South African National Aids Council national strategy. Yet, Covid-19 has also brought with it innovations in treatment and prevention for HIV, TB and STIs.
Deborah Birx, a member of President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), told the 23rd International AIDS conference that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, they have continued to achieve most of their HIV sustainable development goals set for 2020.