The COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on the most vulnerable communities worldwide and threatens progress against HIV, TB and malaria. Imperial College London estimates “in high burden settings, HIV, TB and malaria related deaths over 5 years may be increased by up to 10%, 20% and 36%, respectively, compared to if there were no COVID-19 epidemic.” That’s why the Global Fund to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is providing immediate funding through its COVID-19 Response Mechanism.

Below, you can find regularly updated information on the impact of COVID-19 on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and news items from around the world on important developments.

How the Global Fund is Responding to COVID-19

COVID-19 & HIV/AIDS

  • A six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy due to COVID-19 could lead to more than 500,000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The 25.7 million people living with HIV and 16.4 million people taking antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Arica risk treatment interruptions due to COVID-19 because HIV services are closed, supply chains to deliver antiretroviral therapies are disrupted or service providers are overwhelmed.
  • “The COVID-19 pandemic must not be an excuse to divert investment from HIV,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “There is a risk that the hard-earned gains of the AIDS response will be sacrificed to the fight against COVID-19, but the right to health means that no one disease should be fought at the expense of the other.”
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COVID-19 & Malaria

  • This year, we celebrated the distribution of the 2 billionth bed net to prevent malaria infections, but if COVID-19 leads to a severe disruption malaria services like insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines, malaria deaths in sub-Saharan African could double.
  • For many countries in the Sahel region of West Africa, peak malaria season in September is likely to overlap with COVID-19 related disruptions if current trends hold.
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COVID-19 & Tuberculosis

  • Lockdowns and limitations on diagnosis, treatment and prevention services could erase five years of progress on TB, increasing the annual number of deaths and cases over the next five years.
  • A three-month lockdown and 10-month restoration of services could mean an additional 6.3 million TB cases and 1.4 million deaths over five years.
  • Tuberculosis kills 1.5 million people each year, more than any other infectious disease.
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Latest News

6/2/20: Africa’s sick get sicker as serious ailments are ignored in Covid-19 pandemic (Business Day – South Africa)

“In South Africa, which has the world’s largest HIV epidemic and 300,000 people with tuberculosis, fear of the coronavirus has emptied hospitals. Although clinics remain open, the number tested for TB has dropped by half, and HIV testing is down a quarter since the national lockdown began on March 27.” READ MORE

6/2/20: Kenyans Living Beyond Their 60s, Shows Report (All Africa)

“…Gains in the fight against malaria may be reversed during this COVID-19 crisis due to an overall shortage of services, while prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, have also been affected.” READ MORE

6/2/20: Just 6 years after Ebola killed more than 11,000 people, West African nations are bracing for a coronavirus spike (Business Insider)

“”People get scared not to go to the different health centers. They maybe might not be suffering from COVID-19 itself — it might be malaria, it might be HIV, it might be tuberculosis— and sometimes you find out when they rush with the child to the hospital that sometimes it’s already late.” READ MORE

6/2/20: In Peru’s Amazon, the church fills COVID-19 aid void for indigenous people (The New Humanitarian)

“Indigenous people…are at particular risk because they already suffer from high rates of food insecurity and non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes. [Indigenous people] are also affected by tuberculosis and tropical diseases like malaria and dengue. A severe outbreak of dengue last year strained the resources of hospitals in Peru’s Amazonian region, and there are still cases in some communities that must now deal with COVID-19.” READ MORE

6/1/20: HIV burden makes Homa Bay vulnerable to Covid-19, says MP (The Star – Kenya)

“MP Martin Owino said HIV patients are immuno-suppressed and could lose their lives should they contract the coronavirus.” READ MORE

6/1/20: Lockdown worsens plight of HIV, tuberculosis patients (DAILY MONITOR – UGANDA)

“Coronavirus has worsened the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS. Hunger has led to poor adherence to treatment. We have a number of patients who are in dire need.” READ MORE

6/1/20: India is Reporting Lesser Tuberculosis Deaths Owing to Diversion of Resources to COVID-19 Mitigation Programs (The New Leam)

“During the lockdown, reporting and documenting of deaths related to TB has been on a decline and this has not allowed us to [assess the] real extent of the problem. This lag in data collection and assimilation [is] to be blamed as one of the core reasons why there seems to be a steady decrease in the number of tuberculosis related deaths.” READ MORE

May 2020: Focus on COVID-19 (The Global Fund)

“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens us all and could destroy years of progress against HIV, TB and malaria.” READ MORE

5/31/20: HIV Cure Research Has Slowed, But Still Progresses (Contagion)

“Scientists conducting research on an HIV vaccine cure…have been repurposed and put to work researching promising therapies and vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus. I don’t see much happening [with HIV research] until we get the COVID-19 [vaccine]” READ MORE

5/27/20: Coronavirus hampers Africa’s fight against malaria, TB (Deutsche Welle)

“African countries have imposed tough measures against COVID-19. But it may come at the cost of other untreated diseases such as malaria and AIDS.” READ MORE


Further Reading

5/21/20: How coronavirus lockdowns stopped flu in its tracks (Nature)

“The international organization the Stop TB Partnership released a report in May estimating that a 3-month lockdown and a 10-month period of recovery would cause an additional 1.37 million deaths [from TB] globally during the next 5 years.” READ MORE

5/21/20: Lockdown Fears for Key Populations (The Lancet HIV)

“With much of the world’s population under COVID-19 lockdown, curfews, and travel restrictions, access to HIV testing and treatment services is a significant concern for people with HIV and those who provide care.” READ MORE

5/21/20: Uganda women fear food shortages will make coronavirus and HIV a deadly mix (Thomas Reuters Foundation)

“HIV-positive women in Uganda fear for their health as food shortages leave them unable to take medication.” READ MORE

5/21/20: WHO Predicts COVID-19 Will Take Heavy Toll in Africa (US News)

“[COVID-19] related increases in hospital care would divert already scarce resources for major health problems in Africa — such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and malnutrition — which would worsen the impact of the new coronavirus, the study warns.” READ MORE

5/20/20: COVID-19 & PEPFAR: Implications for the Future (KFF)

“COVID-19 has the potential to deeply impact PEPFAR countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa and, as such, affect PEPFAR’s future trajectory.” READ MORE

5/20/20: How Have Organizations Adapted Their HIV Interventions During COVID-19? (Frontline AIDS)

“Together with experts from across the Frontline AIDS partnership we explored the changing needs of marginalised people, followed by a live discussion with people from communities affected by the pandemic.” READ MORE

5/20/20: COVID-19: Lockdown takes heavy toll on SA’s TB response (Spotlight)

“As South Africa nears day 55 of its COVID-19 lockdown, a new modelling study by the Stop TB Partnership suggests that the longer countries spend under lockdown, the more tuberculosis (TB) cases and deaths the world could see.” READ MORE

5/19/20: Almost 11,000 HIV-positive patients in Gauteng, South Africa have skipped ARV collection during lockdown (Sowetan Live)

“The Gauteng health department on Tuesday said it was trying to trace thousands of TB and HIV-positive patients who have failed to collect their medication since the start of the lockdown on March 27 2020.” READ MORE

5/19/20: The high possible cost of COVID-19 on new HIV infections among children (UNAIDS)

New modeling has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic could have a major impact on new HIV infections among children in sub-Saharan Africa.” READ MORE

5/17/20: COVID-19 Outbreak in Nigeria Is Just One of Africa’s Alarming Hot Spots (New York Times)

“Dozens of doctors are infected and gravediggers are overwhelmed in Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city, where inaction led to an unchecked outbreak. Across Africa, other hot spots are emerging.” READ MORE

5/17/20: Leading South Africa Health Experts Warn That COVID-19 Response is Hurting Other Health Priorities (GroundUp)

“Children are suffering increasingly from preventable infectious diseases, including TB and measles, due to missed vaccinations.” READ MORE

5/16/20: Over 145 TB patients die in Agra without treatment during lockdown (India Today)

“Over 145 tuberculosis patients have died in the past 54 days in Agra. The toll is more than six times the usual number of deaths from TB in the city.” READ MORE

5/14/20: COVID-19 likely to undo HIV/AIDS Gains (Daily Nation)

KENYA – “Due to stigma, many HIV clients choose to register for ARVs at public facilities that are far from their areas of residence. A number of health facilities have recorded a drastic reduction in the number of people showing up to collect their drug supplies.” READ MORE

5/12/20: Is COVID-19 making it harder to treat other diseases in Africa? (Al Jazeera)

“The coronavirus pandemic is putting enormous strain on health systems worldwide. In some countries, that means resources are being diverted from other treatments. Patients with illnesses such as HIV, tuberculosis or malaria risk having their treatment interrupted.” READ MORE

5/12/20: Watch: UNAIDS director warns of ‘colliding epidemics’ (Devex)

“Saying “the virus has found a very unequal world,” UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima warned that COVID-19 will hurt the most vulnerable, including people living with HIV.” READ MORE

5/11/20: AIDS, TB And Malaria Set To Get Deadlier Due To Coronavirus (Forbes)

“The ‘Big Three’ are predicted to get bigger. AIDS, TB and malaria are predicted to kill many more in the coming months and years. COVID-19 could potentially double the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 when compared with 2018.” READ MORE

5/11/20: AIDs deaths could double in sub-Saharan Africa due to COVID-19 (RFI)

“The number of deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa could double if the provision of healthcare to HIV sufferers is disrupted during the coronavirus crisis, the United Nations said Monday.” READ MORE

5/10/20: Impact of COVID-19 Intervention on TB Testing in South Africa (National Institute for Communicable Diseases – South Africa)

“The COVID-19 level 5 restrictions has resulted in a ~ 48% average weekly decrease in TB Xpert testing volumes while, the number of TB positive declined by 33%.” READ MORE

5/8/20: Coronavirus pandemic could contribute to surge of other deadly diseases, experts warn (CNN)

“Cases of malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases could surge worldwide in coming months as global health systems rally to battle the coronavirus pandemic, global health experts tell CNN.” READ MORE