LAHORE: As several studies spotlight the intersection of the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics, new evidence from a large-scale World Health Organization (WHO) analysis reveals that HIV is a significant independent risk factor for severe COVID-19 illness at hospitalization and in-hospital death.
IAS – International AIDS Society – calls upon all countries for people living with HIV to be included in priority populations for COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The studies highlighting new evidence on HIV and TB drug resistance updates on acceptability of HIV prevention tools and increased risk faced by women and girls under COVID-19 lockdowns will be presented at IAS 2021 – the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science – being convened by the IAS virtually from July 18 to 21.
Originally scheduled to be held in Berlin, Germany, but turned virtual due to COVID19 restrictions, the conference expects around 6,000 participants online. The conference officially opens coming Sunday with remarks from German Chancellor Angela Merkel followed by a panel discussion on the COVID-19 and HIV pandemics with global health experts including Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The IAS conference also marks the 40th anniversary of the first reports of AIDS and recounts the progress made over the past four decades of the global response. The IAS featured five studies preview scientific highlights, showing important progress in HIV prevention, treatment and cure efforts despite major disruption to HIV programmes and research during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This WHO study underscores the importance of countries including all people living with HIV in the list of priority populations for national COVID-19 vaccine programmes,” IAS President and IAS 2021 International Co-Chair Adeeba Kamarulzaman said. “The global community must also do more to bring COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world with high prevalence of HIV and other diseases. It is unacceptable that as of today, less than 3% of the entire African continent has received a single dose of the vaccine and less than 1.5% have received both doses.”
The previous evidence regarding the impact of HIV infection on the severity and mortality of COVID-19 has been limited and sometimes conflicting. In this report, WHO researchers analysed clinical data submitted to the WHO Global Clinical Platform for COVID-19 from 24 countries on more than 15,500 people living with HIV who were hospitalized for COVID-19.