What HIV carriers should do to prevent infection by COVID-19?

Friday 24/04/2020 10:50

VGP – The UNAIDS has released an article for HIV carriers to know more about HIV and COVID-19 amid the complex developments of COVID-19 in the world.

Accordingly, the UNAIDS is urging people to act with kindness, not stigma and discrimination-people affected by COVID-19 are part of the solution and must be supported.

Governments must respect the human rights and dignity of people affected by COVID-19. The experiences learned from the HIV epidemic can be applied to the fight against COVID-19. As in the AIDS response, governments should work with communities to find local solutions. Key populations must not bear the brunt of increased stigma and discrimination as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 is a serious disease that is set to hit the countries with the highest burden of HIV very soon. Everyone, including people living with HIV, should take the recommended precautions to reduce exposure to COVID-19:

Regular and thorough hand washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.

Maintain at least 1 meter distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Make sure that you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene—cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

UNAIDS recognizes, however, that in many countries, owing to weaker health-care systems, informal settlements, overcrowded cities and public transportation and a lack of clean water and sanitation, the current approaches to self-protection, social distancing and containment may not be viable.

COVID-19 and people living with HIV

COVID-19 is a serious disease and all people living with HIV should take all recommended preventive measures to minimize exposure to, and prevent infection by, the virus that causes COVID-19. As in the general population, older people living with HIV or people living with HIV with heart or lung problems may be at a higher risk of becoming infected with the virus and of suffering more serious symptoms. All people living with HIV should reach out to their health-care providers to ensure that they have adequate stocks of essential medicines.

Despite the scale-up of HIV treatment in recent years, 15 million people living with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy, which may compromise their immune systems.

We will actively learn more about how HIV and COVID-19 together impact on people living with HIV from countries and communities responding to both epidemics. Lessons in rolling out innovations or adapting service delivery to minimize the impact on people living with HIV will be shared and replicated as they become available. Until more is known, people living with HIV—especially those with advanced or poorly controlled HIV disease—should be cautious and pay attention to the prevention measures and recommendations. It is also important that people living with HIV have multimonth refills of their HIV medicines.

As of March 18, as many as 210,300 alive HIV carriers were recorded in Viet Nam, of whom 97,106 developed full-blown AIDS and 98,622 deaths of AIDS were announced.

Among 268 COVID-19 infection cases in Viet Nam, 224 have been cleared of the virus and discharged from hospitals, accounting for over 83%.

By Thuy Dung

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