The fight against AIDS has taken a backseat as global and regional health organizations focus their attention on the COVID-19 pandemic (Reuters). Progress against AIDS was already falling behind, but with the pandemic, the fight against HIV may be set back by at least 10 years (Reuters). The World Health Organization (WHO) created a modelling group which found that, if health providers are unable to overcome healthcare interruptions, these interruptions may lead to a six-month disruption of antiretroviral administration (WHO). This six-month disruption could cause upwards of 500,000 extra deaths in sub-Saharan Africa caused by AIDS-related illnesses (WHO).
Approximately 470,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2018 (Al Jazeera). Setbacks caused by the pandemic could put Africa right back where it was in 2008 in regard to deaths related to AIDS (Al Jazeera). 16.4 million people in sub-Saharan Africa rely on antiretroviral therapy, but over 9 million people are still not receiving treatment for HIV (Al Jazeera). COVID-19 has not only affected antiretroviral distribution but has also reduced access to clinical care due to the overburdening of already-fragile healthcare systems (WHO).