The COVID-19 pandemic’s wide-reaching and extraordinary effects particularly to public health and the medical field has, unfortunately, created other grave consequences that have come unnoticed. As focus, as of late, has been on the novel coronavirus, attention on other equally critical illnesses and diseases has seemingly taken a back seat.
Among these illnesses, the World Health Organization (WHO) identifies Tuberculosis or TB, Malaria, and HIV as the among the most serious. In fact, the WHO notes, TB claims 1.5 million lives a year, while NGO Frontline AID states that 38 million people live with HIV worldwide. Of this, 12.6 million or 33% have been unable to access HIV treatments during the pandemic induced lockdowns.
The impact of COVID-19 on HIV programs and patients
A report from UNAIDS reveals that one in four people living with HIV have reported problems with gaining access to important medications. Similarly, HIV programs are among those that have had disruptions in services, with up to 85% of existing programs affected based on a survey by The Global Fund, a partnership that mobilizes and invests funds to support programs towards AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Of even greater concern, Frontline AIDS further observes, is how the coronavirus, alongside HIV and AIDS, has a greater impact on people who are already marginalized. Specifically, it is those most affected by HIV who will feel the brunt of the effects of the coronavirus, especially with how lockdowns and quarantines have made access to much-needed antiretroviral medicines, not to mention visits to hospitals and health centers, extremely difficult.
The importance of HIV protection and prevention
In light of the above situation, and in view of recent data from the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau that shows 2,818 newly-confirmed HIV-positive individuals from January to March of this year, protection from HIV is truly the best way forward.
Actively doing its part in informing the public on the importance of protection, preparedness and education regarding HIV is Durex. Through its latest multimedia Protection & Preparedness Education (PPE) campaign—featuring vlog collaborations, online university talks, and e-learning videos—Durex wants the public to be properly informed and kept safe from HIV during this pandemic. The public is also enjoined to visit Durex Philippines’ official Facebook Page and YouTube Channel, where they can be kept up-to-date and informed.
And since no one is invulnerable to catching HIV in these times, being prepared in encounters – to always come prepared – is a must. And clearly, as we all do our share in preventing the spread of COVID-19, we must also be responsible in protecting ourselves and others from catching HIV.