#COVID19 represents a significant threat for people living with HIV and AIDS. Health experts say services for HIV/AIDS patients have been slowed down by the pandemic for nearly 2 years.
As Cameroon joins the rest of the world to observe the 34th World AIDS Day on the theme, “End inequalities. End AIDS”, health experts have said they will continue to provide adequate HIV/AIDS services to patients.
On the occasion of World AIDS Day, the founding President the African Synergies against AIDS and sufferings, and UNAIDS ambassador, Chantal Biya regrets that COVID19 has slowed down HIV/AIDS services.
“ Today we are fighting two deadly pandemics. We have continued to fight against HIV/AIDS while maintaining the fight against #COVID19. This has seriously interrupted healthcare for HIV/AIDS, and affected our positive spirit “.
Speaking on World AIDS Day, Cameroon’s Public Health Minister says “AIDS response did not stop during #COVID19. Health Care for patients only slowed down as health experts were overwhelmed by the rise in #COVId19 infections.
According to Buri Chantine, ART Clinic Nurse, at the Bamenda Regional Hospital, patients boycotted hospitals for fear of contracting #COVID19.
“During the height of #COVID19, patients including those living with HIV stayed away from the hospitals for fear of contracting COVID19. This made some to run out of medication.We have not quantified the impact, yet but we did all we could to get the medication to those we could. That meant extra expenditure for us as healthcare providers as well”.
Dr. Manaouda Malachie says #COVID19 led to the use of more innovative approaches to providing services to patients during #COVID19, in order to achieve the 95-95-95 goals by 203.
Adolescent girls and young women remain the most vulnerable group of people, affected by HIV/AIDS. This is why Mme Chantal Biya thinks sensitization and awareness campaigns for this group of people must be intensified.
According to the UN Goodwill-ambassador, 1.7 million new HIV infections were recorded in 2020. A total of 770, 000 deaths, 25% occurred in children under the age of 15.HIV prevalence remains high among key populations. The prevalence among sex workers is 24.3% . The South and East regions continue to have the highest prevalence rates; 5.8% and 5.6% respectively. The number of children exposed to HIV who have been screened is also still low. Of the deaths in 2020, about 25% occurred in children under the age of 15.
To reduce HIV /AIDS fatalities, Mme Chantal Biya says Africa, especially Cameroon must be self sufficient with regards to the production of anti retroviral drugs .
The United Nations instituted December 1 as World AIDS Day was instituted in 1998, to raise awareness about the disease around the globe. It the first international day for global health.
Kathy Neba Sina