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COVID-19 Disruptions Slow HIV Treatment Targets

Dr Nelson Musoba, the Director-General of Uganda AIDS Commission says that following a total lockdown that was instituted to forestall the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, many persons living with HIV were unable to access their routine medical care or essential medicine refills.
10 Aug 2020 18:39
Minister of state for presidency Esther Mbayo speaking to journalists at Uganda Media Center - Photo by Ashraf Kasirye

Audio 5

Enormous disruptions in access to treatment services for People Living with HIV/AIDS have slowed down Uganda’s efforts to reduce HIV infections and increase the number of people accessing treatment across the country. 

Dr Nelson Musoba, the Director-General of Uganda AIDS Commission says that following a total lockdown that was instituted to forestall the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, many persons living with HIV were unable to access their routine medical care or essential medicine refills. 

Dr Musoba told journalists in Kampala today that as a result, people whose livelihood was dependent on anti-retroviral therapy decided to stay at home without taking drugs until lockdown was lifted, a development which affected the test and treat strategy, which has been promoted since 2015. 

The World Health Organization recommends that all people with HIV should take antiretroviral therapy, regardless of CD4 cell count. This is because research has proved that treatment, even at high CD4 cell counts reduce the risk of illness and death. Research also indicates that people taking treatment who have an undetectable viral load have an effectively zero risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners.  

Dr Musoba says that this, and other disruptions might lead to an increase in the number of annual HIV/AIDS infections from 51,007 to a bigger number.  

//Cue in; “Thar COVID-19 impacted...   

Cue out…didn’t have food.”//  

Luganda//Cue in; “Tukimanyi nti mu budde… 

Cue out….oba kagenze waggulu.”//  

Under the 90-90-90 targets, governments pledged to ensure that by the end of this year, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV are accessing sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people accessing antiretroviral therapy are virally suppressed. 

Meanwhile, Dr Joshua Musinguzi, the programs Manager AIDS Control Program- ACP said that the government countered the effects of the lockdown and facilitated distribution of drugs and where necessary asked security officials to allow patients to go and receive their drugs from health centres. 

English//'Cue in; “The ministry during… 

Cue out….Particularly, ARVs.”//   

Uganda currently has 1.4 million People living with HIV, according to the Minister in charge of the presidency Esther Mbayo. Of these, 6.8 per cent are women, 4.2 per cent are men, 2.8 per cent are young women and 1.1 per cent young men. But only 1.2 million of them are on treatment, while over 200,000 people are hiding within the population. 

Mbayo, however, noted that the government is now focusing on domestic funding for the fight against HIV because the COVID-19 pandemic has highly affected foreign donations.    

//Cue in; “Uganda has pledged…. 

Cue out….the related deaths”''     

Luganda//Cue in; “Twayogera era twogedde…

Cue out….obulwadde bwa mukenenya.”// 

A recent modelling exercise estimated that a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa alone could lead to 500 000 additional AIDS-related deaths