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The fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in decline due to Covid-19

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria estimates that “the impact of Covid-19 has been devastating” on these diseases, with indicators on the decline. Its report, released Wednesday, reveals that the epidemic has severely disrupted access to health systems and screening tests.

The Covid-19 epidemic has had a “devastating impact” on the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, which has experienced an unprecedented decline, lamented, Wednesday, September 8, in its annual report the Global Fund of fight against these diseases, an original partnership between States, civil society, the private sector and patients.

The 2020 figures “confirm what we feared when the Covid-19 appeared,” summed up Peter Sands, executive director of the Fund, quoted in the report.

For the first time since its creation in 2002, the Fund is reporting backtracking: it is particularly concerned about significant cuts in HIV testing and prevention services (the virus that causes AIDS) for key populations. and vulnerable, and a sharp decrease in the number of people tested and treated for TB, with particular impact on drug-resistant TB control programs.

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The pandemic has had “catastrophic” consequences in the fight against tuberculosis. In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis fell by 19%. In countries where the Global Fund invests, some 4.7 million people with the disease have received treatment, about one million fewer than in 2019.

Decline in HIV prevention and testing

On the fight against HIV, the impact of Covid-19 is also significant. While the number of positive people receiving antiretroviral treatment continued to increase, by 9% in 2020, the report shows an “alarming” decline in prevention and screening services for key and vulnerable people.

The number of people reached by AIDS prevention programs decreased by 11% in 2020, by 12% among the youngest populations. The number of treatments given to mothers to prevent their babies from contracting the virus has fallen by 4.5%.

AIDS testing has declined by 22% overall, delaying the start of treatment in most countries.

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In countries where the Global Fund invests, 21.9 million people were on antiretroviral therapy for HIV in 2020, an increase of 8.8% from 2019.

Innovations due to the pandemic

So far, malaria programs appear to have been less affected by Covid-19, the report continues.

In particular, the number of mosquito nets distributed continued to grow, by 17% in 2020. Indeed, in a number of countries, volunteers engaged in the fight against the disease have abandoned distributions in large centers, incompatible with the pandemic, for the benefit of door-to-door.

However, the number of screenings of people suspected of having malaria fell by 4.3% in 2020. And progress to contain the disease has stagnated, deplores the Fund.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shed light on the “crucial importance” of health systems around the world, the Fund said.

A few glimmers of hope, however: the pandemic has spawned a number of innovations that have benefited the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In Nigeria, for example, the national AIDS control agency appropriately carried out HIV tests on people who came to medical centers for Covid tests, reports the Fund. Result: the detections of positive people increased.

With AFP

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