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Study shows HIV positive people are at low risk of dying from COVID-19

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Study shows HIV positive people are at low risk of dying from COVID-19. The study entitled: “Risk of COVID-19 death among people with HIV: a population cohort analysis from the Western Cape province, South Africa,” was conducted between March 1 and June 2020.

A study by the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has shown that People Living With HIV (PLWH) are at less risk of dying from COVID-19 than those with underlying illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.

The study, using patient data on 3 456 253 adults, while confirming that PLWH had a higher risk of COVID-19 death compared to HIV negative persons, shows that the same cannot be said of those with underlying illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and tuberculosis.

“A small proportion (less than 10%) of all COVID-19 deaths in the province, were attributable to HIV. Older age, male s.e.x, diabetes mellitus, current and previous tuberculosis, chronic kidney disease and other comorbidities were also associated with increased COVID-19 mortality,” read in part the findings of the study.

The NICD said the strengths of its analysis include its large sample size using populationlevel data, laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 diagnoses in all COVID-19 patients, and inclusion of both hospitalised and non-hospitalised cases and deaths.

“Among 3 456 253 “active” public sector adult patients, there were 12 522 diagnosed with COVID-19 and not deceased by database closure, and 435 COVID-19 deaths,” the report adds.

“In the public sector population patient cohort, COVID-19 death was associated with male sex, increasing age and diabetes mellitus (with higher risk with elevated HbA1c), hypertension and chronic kidney disease, as well as previous and current tuberculosis. ”

A recent study by the World Health Organisation and UNAids estimated that COVID-19 induced disruptions to health services antiretroviral (ARV) therapy could lead to more than 500 000 extra deaths from Aids-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020–2021.

According to the WHO and UNAids, a six-month disruption scenario estimates Aids-related deaths in one year ranging from 471 000 to 673 000, “making it inevitable that the world will miss the global 2020 target of fewer than 500 000 Aids-related deaths worldwide.”

Disrupted services could also reverse gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, they said. In Zimbabwe, the warning comes as nurses are on strike protesting poor salaries and working conditions.

Health sector is already teetering on its knees, piling more headaches to PLWH. Mpilo clinical director, Xolani Ndlovu yesterday, however, said the institution was coping despite being strained.

“At the moment, we do not have a crisis but we are trying to cope with what we have. We have student nurses and nurses that are back from probation. We are attending to all emergencies. No emergency is turned away,” Ndlovu said. A rapid HIV-specific assessment from Zimbabwe found that 19% of people with HIV were unable to get (ART) refills owing to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Source – Bulawayo24 News

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