Sep 7, 2021 - Health

Report: COVID-19 has negatively impacted the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria

Doctor testing a patient for HIV.
Healthcare worker takes the blood sample for an HIV/AIDS test. Photo by: Emmanuel Osodi/Majority World/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

COVID-19 has severely set back key programs in fighting HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, according to a report released by the Global Fund on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Before the pandemic, the world had been making strides against those three diseases, with deaths dropping by half since 2004, per the New York Times.

  • Fewer people sought diagnosis or treatment because they were afraid of becoming infected with the coronavirus, per the Times, while others were denied care because they had COVID-19-like symptoms.

By the numbers: In 2019, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis, according to the World Health Organization. And over 1.5 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2020, according to UNAIDS.

  • The number of people treated dropped by 19% for drug-resistant TB and by 37% for extensively drug-resistant TB.
  • HIV testing dropped by 22%.
  • People reached by HIV prevention programs dropped by 11% while prevention services for young people dropped by 12%.

But, but, but: Malaria outreach was not as badly affected by COVID-19 as the other two diseases.

  • The Global Fund distributed 188 million mosquito nets to protect families from malaria, a 17% increase compared to 2019. 

What they're saying: “[The 2020 numbers] confirm what we feared might happen when COVID-19 struck,” Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, said.

  • “Despite the horrible toll COVID-19 has taken, the pandemic presents us with a chance to build a better, more equitable and healthier world,” Sands added.
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