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The Outbreak Of Covid 19 Puts A Pause In HIV Research

The Outbreak Of Covid 19 Puts A Pause In HIV Research

Some researches say COVID-19 has stymied the battle against HIV, diverting health professionals and other resources and delaying the United States’ goal to end the AIDS pandemic by 2030.

The Outbreak Of Covid 19 Puts A Pause In HIV Research

Saturday is the 40th anniversary of the first report that brought AIDS to the public’s attention. For a time, the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, seemed to be progressing well. However, researchers anticipate that the United States may soon witness its first uptick in infections in years. Internationally, recent gains may be undone as a result of COVID-19’s disruption of HIV testing and care.

The Outbreak Of Covid 19 Puts A Pause In HIV Research

COVID was a big failure, according to Jeffrey Crowley, a former White House Office of National AIDS Policy director who currently teaches at Georgetown University.

COVID-19 has almost killed approx. 600,000 Americans in last 16 months, nearing the 700,000 Americans that AIDS killed over 40 years.

Before COVID-19, health experts were praising how new drugs and other advances had steadily controlled HIV, inspiring then-President Donald Trump to launch in 2019 a drive to end the U.S. pandemic by 2030.

However, health officials in the United States are currently gathering statistics on how much COVID-19 influenced HIV infections and fatalities, as well as how successfully testing, prevention, and treatment kept up with the pandemic.

There are indications of a reversal.

Emory University researcher Samuel Jenness utilized Atlanta-area statistics and statistical modeling to anticipate significant increases in various sexually transmitted illnesses, including HIV.

COVID-19, at the very least, reversed the recent decrease in new HIV infections, according to Jenness. At worst, it might lead to an upsurge in cases over at least the next couple of years, he noted.

According to the little data gathered by the CDC, there was a significant drop-off in HIV testing and other services.

The CDC examined data from a facility that handles almost a fifth of the nation’s HIV testing, comparing figures from March 13 to September 30 of last year to the same time the previous year. The organization discovered that there were 670,000 fewer HIV screening tests and around 4,900 fewer HIV diagnoses than usual.

There was also a 21% decrease in prescriptions for pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. PrEP is a type of medicine that persons at risk of HIV take to protect them from contracting the virus through sex or injectable drug use.

What is causing the declines?

Most health agencies and community groups in the United States have to reduce HIV testing, which is the first step in getting persons infected with the virus on medications that can protect them from transmitting it. In addition, health department staff who performed contact tracing to prevent HIV epidemics were relocated to COVID-19.

Even where HIV clinics were available, some patients refused to go because they were afraid of contracting the coronavirus.

Another possibility is that there is less sex.

According to surveys, many persons at increased risk of HIV infection had sex fewer times and with fewer sexual partners during the first months of the pandemic.

However, there are indications that many people resumed their typical levels of sexual activity by summer, according to Jenness, whose research focused on homosexual and bisexual males, a population that has had the highest HIV transmission rates for years.

People’s sexual behavior altered for barely three months, but he claims that preventive, testing and care interruptions continue.

What does this entail for the national objectives?

According to data released this week, the number of new infections has been lowering for years, falling to around 35,000 in 2019.

Following Trump’s statement in 2019, federal health experts stated that the true objective was to reduce new infections by 90% over the next ten years, to fewer than 3,000 per year.

However, Jenness and his colleagues anticipated that the Atlanta area alone will see around 900 more HIV diagnoses than usual among homosexual and bisexual males over the next five years.

Another ominous omen: drug overdoses are continuing on the rise, and sharing needles are one method individuals transfer HIV, according to Dr. Walensky, head of the CDC.

Recent increases in HIV infections in West Virginia have been linked to intravenous drug use, as part of a broader change in how the virus is spreading in the state. In 2014, injectable drugs were responsible for 1 in every 8 West Virginia HIV diagnosis. According to data from the state health department, approximately two out of every three were by 2019.

All of this means that the 90 percent reduction target will not be realized, according to some experts, but health officials have not yet abandoned that aim.

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