WHO reports on benefits of continuing HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic

20 April 2021

Article: 55/1605

UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) have reported on the use of HIV and COVID-19 simulation models, which estimate the benefits of continuing HIV services, in terms of fewer new HIV infections and deaths, against the additional estimated deaths due to COVID-19 transmission among health workers and clients. The analysis predicts that maintaining HIV services would avert between 19 and 146 AIDS-related deaths per 10,000 people over a 50-year time horizon, while the additional COVID-19-related deaths from exposures related to HIV services would be 0.002 to 0.15 per 10,000 people. UNAIDS and the WHO conclude that the analysis demonstrates that the benefits of continuing to provide HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic outweigh the risk of additional COVID-19-related deaths.

The analysis looked at disruptions to four key HIV services, voluntary medical male circumcision, HIV diagnostic testing, viral load testing and programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The analysis also compared COVID-19 deaths in 2020 and 2021 among health workers and clients due to keeping HIV services open, with averted AIDS-related deaths occurring now and over the next 50 years due to maintenance of services.

Source: WHO, 13 April 2021