Africa HIV Deaths ‘Could Rise by 500,000’ amid Pandemic

ADDIS ABABA – Lack of proper response could cause the death of up to 500 million Africans between now and next year in Aids-related illnesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic, warns World Health Organization (WHO).

A modeling analysis done by the WHO and UNAids shows that the impact of a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could effectively set the clock back on Aids-related deaths to 2008, when more than 950,000 deaths were observed in the continent.

“The terrible prospect of half a million more people in Africa dying of Aids-related illnesses is like stepping back into history,” Tedros Adhanom, the WHO director-general has said in a statement.

UNAids executive director Winnie Byanyima warned that treatment could be interrupted, with HIV services closed or unable to supply antiretroviral therapy due to breakdown in the supply chain.

“It could even be because services simply become overwhelmed due to competing needs to support the Covid-19 response.

“There is a risk that the hard-earned gains of the Aids response will be sacrificed to the fight against Covid-19, but the right to health means that no one disease should be fought at the expense of the other,” she said.

The WHO director-general said that countries need to ensure that those diagnosed with HIV are adhering to treatment and that testing services won’t be disrupted.