COVID 19 and the consequences in the fight against HIV

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Gabriela Orozco, a medical student currently studying the sixth year at the Juárez University of the State of Durango, Mexico. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


During this year we have been hearing almost daily that we are living in a historical time, where a pandemic has invaded us causing us altering the way we live and interact, in addition to having social, political and cultural impact, COVID19 interacts negatively with other diseases that for various reasons are still actively forming a syndemic.

One of these diseases is the HIV / AIDS pandemic. Despite all the efforts to treat it, there are external factors intermingled that make that make this disease more problematic to control. We know that HIV control goes much beyond than pharmacological treatment, it also involves months of fighting against sexual and reproductive stigmas, counselling, and emotional guidance, as well as a therapeutic accompaniment that today is difficult for us to follow, currently, it is estimated that with 6 months of treatment or counseling lost due to isolation and little global connectivity, could cause more than 500,000 deaths associated with HIV / AIDS as well as an increase in more than 160% of HIV infections in newborns or infants in high-risk populations.

Access to health at the time of being an HIV positive person is interrupted by the social stigma that makes us believe that we do not all have the same right to reproductive and sexual health and today, in addition to stigma, there is a disruption in HIV treatments, caused by the COVID pandemic that challenges every health care professional to rethink the way we are trying to solve this disease, with a notable lack of medical supplies, few personnel for counseling and halting of prenatal care plans for HIV-positive mothers. And it is here, where we realize that currently have the right to reproductive and sexual health continues to be a privilege that few have, where there is no formally adequate network that can mitigate events like the ones we are facing, where there are no programs of rescue so that despite the connectivity problems, the most unprotected can continue with their antiretroviral therapy, with basic education to treat associated comorbidities or counseling to be able to prevent the mechanisms of maternal-fetal transmission of the virus.

That is why, when going through the COVID pandemic, we have to make a 180º turn in our public health policies, we need to stop orienting them towards politics and focus on health, in order to avoid that our support networks for patients with HIV are interfered with, to be able to offer them always and in an appropriate way the treatment for a disease that more than 38 million people suffer today. As health professionals, we must safeguard every patient to correctly exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health, and within all these rights, to be able to be treated, accompanied, and guided during their process despite any other external event.

References

UNAIDS, COVID-19 and HIV section.

https://www.unaids.org/en/covid19

About the author

Gabriela Orozco is a medical student currently studying the sixth year at the Juárez University of the State of Durango, Mexico, belongs to AMMEF Mexico. She believes that equity and inclusion are part of a medical career and at the same time, we, as future healthcare workers, have the need to participate in a non- discriminatory health service.

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Comments

  1. Edward Vizc says:

    Great review, great article, and also gives a very inclusive perspective.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Access to health at the time of being an HIV positive person is interrupted by the social stigma that makes us believe that we do not all have the same right to reproductive and sexual health and today, in addition to stigma, there is a disruption in HIV treatments, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that challenges every health care professional to rethink the way we are trying to solve this disease, with a notable lack of medical supplies, few personnel for counseling and halting of prenatal care plans for HIV-positive mothers.” READ MORE […]

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