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HIV prevention suffers during Covid-19

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Almost2late:
This may only be the tip of the iceberg according to the article..


--- Quote ---Strides Against HIV/AIDS In The U.S. Falter As Resources Diverted To Fight COVID-19

Facing a yearlong siege from the coronavirus, the defenses in another, older war are faltering.

For the last two decades, HIV/AIDS has been held at bay by potent antiviral drugs, aggressive testing and inventive public education campaigns. But the COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound disruptions in almost every aspect of that battle, grounding outreach teams, sharply curtailing testing and diverting critical staff away from laboratories and medical centers.

The exact impact of one pandemic on the other is still coming into focus, but preliminary evidence is disturbing experts who have celebrated the enormous strides in HIV treatment. While the shift in priorities is nationwide, delays in testing and treatment carry particularly grievous risks in Southern states, now the epicenter of the nation's HIV crisis.

"This is a major derailing," says Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta and head of the Emory AIDS International Training and Research Program. "There will be damage. The question is, how much?"

Clinics have limited in-person visits, and doctors' offices and emergency rooms have halted routine HIV screening, with physicians relying instead on video calls with patients, a futile alternative for those who are homeless or fear that family members will discover their status. Rapid-testing vans that once parked outside nightclubs and bars and handed out condoms are mothballed. And, in state capitals and county seats, government expertise has been singly focused on the all-hands-on-deck COVID-19 response.

Concrete signs of the impact on HIV surveillance abound: One large commercial lab reported nearly 700,000 fewer HIV screening tests across the U.S. a 45% drop and 5,000 fewer diagnoses between March and September 2020, compared with the same period the year before. Prescriptions for PrEP, a preexposure prophylaxis that can prevent HIV infection, also have fallen sharply, according to new research presented at a conference last month. State public health departments have recorded similarly steep declines in testing.

That dearth in new data has led to a precarious, unknowable moment: For the first time in decades, the nation's lauded HIV surveillance system is blind to the virus's movement.

Nowhere will the lack of data be felt more profoundly than in the South: The region accounts for 51% of new infections, 8 of the 10 states with the highest rates of new diagnoses and half of all HIV-related deaths, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/04/21/988813979/strides-against-hiv-aids-in-the-u-s-falter-as-resources-diverted-to-fight-covid-

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