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Experts are watching AIDS progress, but COVID-19 has stopped progress

In the file photo on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, Brook Parker, the organizer of Solution Oriented Addiction Response, holds an HIV test kit in Charleston, West Virginia. This non-profit group runs health fairs for residents, including syringe replacement and HIV testing. Some researchers believe that COVID-19 has derailed the fight against HIV, sucked up health care workers and other resources, and set back the US campaign to eradicate the AIDS epidemic by 2030. I will. Credits: AP Photo / John Raby

Some researchers believe that COVID-19 has derailed the fight against HIV, sucked up health care workers and other resources, and set back the US campaign to eradicate the AIDS epidemic by 2030. I will.

Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the first report of AIDS in the spotlight. For a while, the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, went well. However, experts believe that the United States will soon see an outbreak for the first time in years. Internationally, interruptions in HIV testing and treatment with COVID-19 may undo recent advances.

“COVID was a big setback,” said Jeffrey Crowley, a former director of the White House National AIDS Policy Department at Georgetown University.

COVID-19 killed nearly 600,000 Americans in 16 months, approaching 700,000 Americans killed by AIDS in 40 years.

Before COVID-19, Health authorities How were you celebrating New drug And as other developments gradually tamed HIV, then President Donald Trump announced a campaign to “eradicate” the US epidemic by 2030 in 2019.

But now, U.S. health officials are collecting accurate data on how well COVID-19 affected HIV infection and death, including how well tests, prevention, and treatment were maintained during the pandemic. I am.

There are signs of retreat.

Emory University researcher Samuel Jenness used data and statistical modeling from the Atlanta region to predict a significant increase in some sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

At the very least, COVID-19 has stopped the recent decline in new HIV infections, Jenness said. “In the worst case, the number of cases could increase, at least for the next few years,” he added.

Limited data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that HIV testing and other services have declined significantly.

The CDC examined data from laboratories that process about a quarter of US HIV tests and compared numbers from March 13 to September 30 last year compared to the same period last year. The agency found that there were 670,000 fewer HIV screening tests than usual and about 4,900 fewer HIV diagnoses.

The number of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) prescriptions also decreased by 21% nationwide. A type of drug that people at risk for HIV take to prevent the virus from being transmitted through sex or the use of injections.

Why is it decreasing?

With most health departments in the United States Community organization Had to reduce HIV testing. This is the first step in giving people infected with the virus a drug that prevents the spread of the virus. In addition, health department employees who were tracking contacts to stop the outbreak of HIV have shifted to COVID-19.

Even where HIV clinics are open, some people were reluctant to enter because they were afraid of being infected with the coronavirus.

There may be another reason: reduced sex.

Studies show that many adults at high risk of HIV transmission have reduced the number of sexual activities and the number of sexual activities, at least during the first months of the pandemic. Sexual partner..

Experts are watching AIDS progress, but COVID-19 has stopped progress

Obtained by the National Institutes of Health, this electron micrograph shows human T cells being attacked by HIV in blue and yellow showing the virus that causes AIDS. The virus specifically targets T cells, which play an important role in the body’s immune response to invaders such as bacteria and viruses. The color was added by the source. Some researchers believe that COVID-19 has derailed the fight against HIV, sucked up health care workers and other resources, and set back the US campaign to eradicate the AIDS epidemic by 2030. I will. Infectious diseases via AP / NIH

However, there are signs that many have resumed normal sexual activity by the summer, Genes said. Genes is conducting a study focused on homosexual and bisexual men. ..

“People’s sexual behavior has changed in just three months, but the disruption of prevention, testing and care continues.

What does that mean for national goals?

According to data released this week, the number of new infections has declined in recent years, dropping to about 35,000 in 2019.

After Trump announced in 2019, federal health officials have revealed that the actual goal is to significantly reduce new infections over the next decade, to less than 3,000 cases per year.

However, Genes and his fellow researchers predicted that the Atlanta region alone would cause about 900 more HIV infections than usual among gay and bisexual men over the next five years.

Another bad harbinger: Drug overdose is still on the rise, and needle sharing is one way to spread HIV, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

The recent surge in HIV infection in West Virginia is associated with the use of intravenous drugs and is part of an ongoing change in the way the virus spreads. In 2014, one in eight HIV-infected people in West Virginia was given an injection. By 2019, nearly two in three people had been infected, according to state health department data.

Health officials have not yet abandoned that goal, but all of this suggests that the 90% reduction target will not be achieved, some experts say.

“We are still working towards that goal,” said Kevin Delaney, an HIV / AIDS researcher at the CDC. “If we miss millions of HIV screening tests from 2020, we’ll make up for it. You need to invest, but your goals haven’t changed. “

Walensky, a well-known HIV researcher before becoming the director of the CDC, said it would be difficult.

“Do you think it’s feasible? Of course,” she said. “Do you think we now have the resources to do that? I don’t think so yet.”

According to the authorities, about 38 million people worldwide were infected with HIV / AIDS in 2019, the authorities said.

However, COVID-19 has also interfered with testing and other medical services around the world. In Africa, one of the continents most affected by AIDS, experts point out that programs that check pregnant women’s HIV and provide male circumcision to reduce the risk of getting the virus are suspended. Did.

UNAIDS, a United Nations effort to stop HIV and AIDS, had previously set a goal of diagnosing and treating a specific proportion of infected people by 2020. Ambitious but achievable. ”The agency has set even more ambitious goals for 2025.

However, it will be difficult for the entire world to reach such a goal, said Dr. Kevin de Kock, a global health expert based in Kenya.

“I don’t think it’s wise to talk about the end of AIDS,” De Kock said. “Internationally, I think we have made tremendous progress. (But) we are not on track to achieve the goals declared by organizations like UNAIDS.”


UN optimistic about overcoming AIDS by 2030


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Experts are watching AIDS progress, but COVID-19 has stopped progress

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