COVID-19 reverses gains in survival rates of HIV patients

Guatemala’s leading HIV centre reported that deaths from HIV rose from 16.6% to 27.3% during COVID-19.

Just published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases – Narda Medina and colleagues charted the provision of HIV care in Guatemala and how the global pandemic has affected diagnosis and treatment. Patient attendances and rapid services were also impacted at the country’s diagnostic laboratory hub based in Guatemala City.

Patient being treated in a Guatemalan clinic
Fig 1 – Patient receiving treatment at a Guatemalan clinic ©Human Rights Watch

Both frontline HIV services and laboratory processing were significantly affected by the pandemic. HIV testing decreased almost 54% during COVID, including testing of pregnant women. This has led to an increased mortality from the disease, as people are waiting longer for their diagnosis, thereby presenting with more advanced disease. Diagnostic specimens for tuberculosis, cryptococcosis and histoplasmosis from 12 other centres also decreased in number, with numbers down 73%.

The authors conclude that it is imperative that the government in Guatemala maintains its essential diagnostic healthcare services for HIV patients and implements new strategies to reduce the overall impact of the pandemic on HIV care.

You can read the full paper here.

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