Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is by doing these 5:
Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
At this time, there are still no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, many ongoing clinical trials are evaluating potential treatments.
Impact of the COVID-19 crisis
International Labor Organisation estimates that COVID-19 may affect more than 25 million livelihoods and cost the global economy between $1 to $2 trillion. Even when the pandemic had affected only 30 people in India in early March, UNCTAD said the trade impact for the country could be about $348 million. The virus’ impact on vulnerable communities with a sizeable unorganised sector workforce is tremendous. Large sections are staring at joblessness, immediate loss of income and the means of sustenance, as these households depend on daily income. The existing economic slowdown will perhaps affect all sectors and it is at the other end of the spectrum, where the proportionate losses are far higher. It will be the poorest who will be hit hardest economically.
It is also the poorest who are least likely to be able to access healthcare and treatment, especially in most of the world where health systems are largely based on patient’s ability to pay, rather than need. Living in densely packed slums, with no sick pays and good healthcare they continue to stare hard to see how governments will respond to this virus. The virus has emphasized the value of collective action, the importance of pooling risks, protecting the poorest and improving public health systems.
HIV/TB and COVID – 19
In these trying times, where India is courageously fighting menacing coronavirus, HIV & TB patients are most vulnerable to the pandemic owing to already low/decreased immunity levels/conditions. These are difficult times for all of us. We urge people to act with kindness, not stigma and discrimination—people affected by COVID-19 are part of the solution and must be supported. The experiences learned from the HIV epidemic can be applied to the fight against COVID-19.
As in the AIDS response, governments should work with communities to find local solutions. Key populations must not bear the brunt of increased stigma and discrimination. Not to mention with 2.1 million, India is the third-largest population of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the world.
COVID-19 is a serious disease and all people living with HIV should take all recommended preventive measures to minimize exposure to, and prevent infection by, the virus that causes COVID-19. As in the general population, older people living with HIV or people living with HIV with heart or lung problems may be at a higher risk of becoming infected with the virus and of suffering more serious symptoms. All people living with HIV should reach out to their health-care providers to ensure that they have adequate stocks of essential medicines.
Despite the scale-up of HIV treatment in recent years, yet there are still many people living with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy, which may compromise their immune systems.
We will actively learn more about how HIV and COVID-19 together impact on people living with HIV from countries and communities responding to both epidemics. Lessons in rolling out innovations or adapting service delivery to minimize the impact on people living with HIV will be shared and replicated as they become available. Until more is known, people living with HIV—especially those with advanced or poorly controlled HIV disease—should be cautious and pay attention to the prevention measures and recommendations. It is also important that people living with HIV have multi-month refills of their HIV medicines.