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As COVID-19 rages, World Health Organization alerts on possible reversal of gains made from combating HIV infections

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PUBLIC ENLIGHTENMENT — MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE • Current situation is a wake-up call to countries to identify ways to sustain all vital health service – Tedros Ghebreyesus, • AIDS-related deaths in one year in Africa ranged from 471 000 to 673 000, Projections estimate that a six-month disruption in antiretroviral therapy could lead to more than 500,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2020–2021, A rise in cases of tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa may surface. The world might miss the global 2020 target of fewer than 500 000 AIDS-related deaths worldwide. As Coronavirus continues its determined march to battle humanity fiercely, another worry has surfaced for the global community. –It is the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome – AIDS. In a Joint News release from the World Health Organization, Geneva,  a modelling group convened by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS has warned that the gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV could be reversed with new HIV infections among children up by as much as 104%. It warned that if efforts are not made to mitigate and overcome interruptions in health services and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could lead to more than 500 000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020–2021. In 2018, an estimated 470 000 people died of AIDS-related deaths in the region. A statement from the World Health Organization There are many different reasons that could cause services to be interrupted—this modelling exercise makes it clear that communities and partners need to take action now as the impact of a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could effectively set the clock on AIDS-related deaths back to 2008, when more than 950 000 AIDS-related deaths were observed in the region. And people would continue to die from the disruption in large numbers for at least another five years, with an annual average excess in deaths of 40% over the next half a decade. In addition, HIV service disruptions could also have some impact on HIV incidence in the next year“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. “We must read this as a wake- call to countries to identify ways to sustain all vital health services. For HIV, some countries are already taking…

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