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HIV, the other pandemic that we have left aside

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, health priorities underwent a radical change around the world. Many patients with other ailments (chronic, above all) had to pause their treatments, putting their lives at risk. Among them are people who live with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a pandemic that has not been solved for more than 40 years.

“Until now there is no access to vaccines or a cure. But, thanks to the advancement of science, antiretroviral treatments – and the same access to treatment – ​​allow a person with HIV have an excellent quality of life and health. So much so that we are seeing how these patients reach the elderly, being affected by pathologies typical of that age group and not by diseases related particularly to HIV ”, comment to Trade Andrea Boccardi, representative of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV AIDS (UNAIDS) in Peru.

If we take a picture of the current moment, what has been seen is that the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had, for example, on the care of people living with HIV, as well as all the prevention programs aimed at populations most vulnerable to HIV, including pregnant women with HIV, and others, stopped. This led to a large setback in 2021 in all national responses on a global scale.


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According to the Minsa, since 1983the year in which the first case of AIDS was reported in Peru, as of September 2021, a total of 143,732 cases of HIV infection. Of this total, 46,641 have been diagnosed as stage AIDS.

“This is precisely what the latest UNAIDS report, released at the end of July, deals with. The title of the report is ‘In danger’, because it shows that, beyond the political commitment to continue with the plan by 2025 and end AIDS as a public health problem by 2030, both the countries and the international community have strayed of the goal. All because of the disruption of services during 2021. Not to mention the documented situations of stigma and discrimination, and denial of services to people with HIVwho also had COVID-19″, emphasizes Boccardi.

complicated moments

Although research and technology for the development of new medicines have increased during all these decades, the amount of information that is available has not allowed progress to be made as much as we might suppose.

“There are very strong conservative lines, which are more evident in politics. We also see it in the media, in how they influence. There are many countries, especially in Europe, in which there is a step back, to issues not only of a homophobic but even xenophobic nature. We cannot have the complacency of saying that everything has already been said, because it is not like that ”, warns the Onusida official for Peru.

For this reason, Boccardi points out the importance of permanently communicating the needs of these populations. “Why in Latin America have we not been able to lower the number of deaths related to AIDS? If there is universal access to treatment in the countries of the region, why don’t those numbers go down? Because new infections keep increasing. Here there are multiple variables, but with very particular structural elements, such as the way to approach it. We must remember that discrimination kills more than the virus. There are populations that, due to a gender identity other than binary or for exercising sex work, suffer hate crimes. Until structural changes are made that lead to changes in people’s behavior, we are going to continue to have public policies in decline”, stresses.

Source: Elcomercio

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