Easing COVID-19's impact on people living with HIV
Shao Yiming

Editor's note: The world has already lost over a million people to COVID-19. But a six-month disruption to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy induced by the pandemic could lead to an extra 0.5 million deaths from AIDS-related illnesses unless timely action is taken. How to ease COVID-19 impact on people living with HIV? Shao Yiming, chief expert on AIDS at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shared his views.

COVID-19 has had a negative impact on AIDs patients as many works have been slowed down. And the AIDS patients could not get timely help because hospitals are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. In many countries, the health system is just merely enough or not enough to deal with a normal epidemic. When the pandemic comes, many systems cannot take the burden.

Not only China but the world need to learn from the current COVID-19 control program. We need to build a more resilient, efficient, and vigorous health system to cope with the challenges brought by infectious disease.

Mankind needs to reconsider what is the danger to all. It is not war anymore, but infectious disease. It is now the biggest threat. We have put so much investment into making weapons rather than investing in public health. After World War II, we built a peacekeeping force to prevent wars. A health-keeping force at the global level to help the whole world control infectious diseases is also needed. We should build that force urgently. 

I'm glad to see the Chinese government already volunteered to provide a health emergency depot, a preparation center to deal with future epidemics. I think this is a very good move and has also been welcomed by the international community.

AIDS, in many countries, has been the top death cause among all infectious diseases. We have to find a more sustainable mechanism to continue our movement. As sexual transmission is the predominant way of transmitting HIV all over the world, We need everyone to participate, to help the infected people, and to reduce the risky behaviors, therefore, we can prevent HIV reach.

In a highly globalized world, we are more vulnerable to the virus, to the pandemic. We do have to react quickly and to adjust our priorities. And all these need global cooperation. Without global collaboration, no country can reach any goal.

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