Coronavirus Fight Could Result in 1 Million More Deaths from Other Neglected Diseases

In a continuous effort to focus their resources on ending the coronavirus pandemic, health services around the world warn that decades of hard-won progress related to HIV, tuberculosis and many other diseases could be have been in vain, according to a new report publishing this week by the International AIDS Society.

IAS officials plan to raise such concerns Monday during the 23rd International AIDS conference, as well as highlight the impact the pandemic has had on control programs for HIV and other diseases worldwide.

“The social distancing efforts and lockdowns to control the spread of it [coronavirus], have disrupted HIV prevention and treatment programs and put vital HIV research on hold,” Dr. Anton Pozniak, International AIDS Society president, said in a recent statement.

Various surveys, including one released in June by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international financing nongovernmental organization, found that across 106 of the countries it works in, 85% reported disruptions to their HIV services and 78% and 73% to tuberculosis and malaria services, respectively.

Nearly 20% reported severe disruptions for all three diseases.

“There is a risk that the hard-earned gains of the AIDS response will be sacrificed to the fight against COVID-19,” UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said in a statement in May, when the models were published. “But the right to health means that no one disease should be fought at the expense of the other.”

Meanwhile, scientists scurry to develop a vaccine by next year and people are urged to wear masks in public.

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