HIV ‘significant’ independent risk factor for severe, critical Covid-19: WHO

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The World Health Organization on Thursday warned that the human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), which causes AIDS, is a “significant independent risk factor” for severe and critical cases of Covid-19 infection. “A new WHO report confirms that HIV infection is a significant independent risk factor for both severe/ critical Covid-19 presentation at hospital admission and in-hospital mortality,” the WHO said in a statement.

Nearly a quarter of the people (23.1% to be exact), who were infected with HIV and hospitalized for Covid-19, lost their lives, the global health body noted in the report, based on the clinical surveillance data from 37 countries about the risk for people living with HIV (PLHIV) admitted to hospital for Covid-19.

For PLHIV, the risk of severe or fatal Covid-19 infections was 30% more than those who are not infected by HIV. And in male PLHIV over 65 years of age, common underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension caused an increased risk of severe and fatal Covid-19 infection and subsequently putting people at increased risk of severe disease and death, the WHO report showed.

Researchers have analyzed the data of 15,500 PLHIV and received hospital treatment for Covid-19. The average age of the participants was 45.5 and over 66% were found with severe or critical Covid-19 infection, news agency AFP reported. Also, 92% had received antiretroviral therapy for AIDS prior to their hospitalization.

“This highlights the need for PLHIV to stay as healthy as possible, regularly access and take their ARV medications and prevent and manage underlying conditions. This also means that people living with HIV – independent of their immune status – should be prioritized for vaccination in most settings,” the WHO statement further said. WHO also cited an informal poll, according to which, 40 countries have prioritized PLHIV for Covid-19 vaccination out of 100 countries with information

Meanwhile, UNAIDS, the United Nations body for action on AIDS, said that the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the efforts against HIV, such as testing, in many countries. “Rich countries in Europe are preparing to enjoy the summer as their populations have easy access to COVID-19 vaccines, while the global South is in crisis,” UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima said in a statement.

“We have failed to learn the lessons of HIV when millions were denied life-saving medicines and died because of inequalities in access. This is totally unacceptable,” Byanyima added.

source: hindustan times

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