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News > World

Africa: COVID Crisis Could Lead to Increase in AIDS Deaths

  • Displaced camp in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo. May 11, 2020

    Displaced camp in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo. May 11, 2020 | Photo: Twitter/@Refugees

Published 13 May 2020

UN and WHO’s forecasts show a possible half million people death toll in 2020 and 2021.

WHO and UNAIDS representatives warned on May 12 that an AIDS treatment could increase the total sum of HIV-related deaths by up to 500,000 in Africa.


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According to the UNAIDS modeling group preclusion, the COVID-19 crisis could cause antiretroviral drug scarcity and treatment to cease if African HIV patients are not prioritized during the COVID spread. UN and WHO forecasts show a possible half million people being killed by the disease between 2020 and 2021. Furthermore, the sub-Saharan African region is expected to suffer the most severe impact.

“The terrible prospect of half a million more people in Africa dying of AIDS-related illnesses is like stepping back into history,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. 

According to UNAIDS statistics, over 25 million AIDS patients were registered in Sub- Saharan Africa, but only 16,4 million received antiretroviral treatment. These patients could face a shortage in medicine and treatment disruption because of COVID effects on the health system, such as hospitals overcrowding and supplies distribution chain interruption. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic must not be an excuse to divert investment from HIV,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “There is a risk that the hard-earned gains of the AIDS response will be sacrificed to the fight against COVID-19, but the right to health means that no one disease should be fought at the expense of the other,” Byanyima added.

 Preclusion models consider these circumstances in 6 months. The hypothesis estimates 670,000 deaths over the average AIDS death toll. Constant interruptions would create antiretroviral pharmacologic resistance in HIV patients, which can compromise drug efficiency and treatment sufferers' response.

 There are 34 million HIV-positive people worldwide, 69% live in sub-Saharan Africa. So far, Africa has registered 71,157 COVID positive cases, 2,409 deaths, and 24,987  recoveries. 

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