Due to the urgent requirement of medical forces dedicated to the coronavirus, the attention from other severe diseases has completely shifted. There is a need for huge attention from the staff towards the COVID-19 patients and this has led to an alarming situation in the United States. Surgeries have been postponed and many doctors have shifted to the telemedicine method for routine consultations to conserve hospital beds and avoid exposing their patients to the virus. In the lack of lab tests and doctors visits, many believe that people are falling into drug and alcohol abuse. The AIDS patients are not leaving their homes because they are afraid of being more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
HIV and the COVID-19 pandemic
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, HIV and cancer patients have worried the most about irregularity in their medical services, as these diseases require constant care. Healthcare workers are worried that any progress against HIV has already stalled in recent years. Now, with the spike in new HIV infections in people who are not even aware of having the disease, the country may even backslide, leaving their fight so far, meaningless. “We’re losing people who are doing HIV testing and focusing on HIV to the Covid-19 response,” said Ace Robinson, with the national nonprofit HIV eradication group, NMAC. “And that means that we’re not able to support people to maintain the care that they deserve.”
Health workers express their concern
Many organizations working for the HIV patients are expressing their concerns and are particularly worried about the South. Prince, the executive director of Selma AIR said, “The virus has made it very challenging for us. We just continue to let people know we’re here, and we’re trying our best to take care of their needs.” Despite their efforts, fewer people in the south are aware they have HIV in comparison to other regions in the US, as per a research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These regions of South had recorded roughly 37,000 HIV infections in 2018 and are the main target of the Trump administration’s plan to eradicate HIV by 2030. HIV workers contacted by The Associated Press in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all reported a drop in HIV testing since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Patients amidst the pandemic
Many HIV positive patients have completely restricted their movements to ensure that they do not catch the coronavirus. Simultaneously, they take drugs to keep their life expectancy near-normal, but the supply of medicines has also reduced in the lockdown. Local health officials have completely stopped testing for sexually transmitted infections. Sharon Jordan, director of the HIV Prevention and Care Office at the Alabama Department of Public Health said, “I feel like the HIV communities, those who are infected, probably feel as if nobody is thinking about us anymore.” The Trump government had launched an aspirational plan last year to end the HIV pandemic in the US and health care workers believe that it still remains a priority, while making their way through coronavirus.
What US needs to do?
- The United States is the most affected country by the coronavirus. They can only win this war by more testing and maintaining social distancing norms.
- While coronavirus is a major concern, proper steps should be taken to facilitate support to other patients.
- Local support to the patients can go a long way under these circumstances.