The number of deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa could double if HIV patients are deprived of healthcare due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the UN said on Monday, May 11.

In a joint statement with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that over 500,000 HIV sufferers could die until 2021 in the region, if the provision of antiretroviral threapy is disrupted for a six-months period.

The countries in the region have swifted their resources earmarked for fighting AIDS, to controlling the Coronavirus pandemic, the UN reported.

“The terrible prospect of half a million more people in Africa dying of AIDS-related ilnesses is like stepping back into history”, said the WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He attributed the risk to the HIV services that are closed or unable to supply antiretroviral threapy “beacause of disruptions to the supply chain, or because services simply become overwhelmed”.

He stressed that globall supplies of tests and treatments for both HIV and Tuberculosis should be safeguarded for countries and communities in greatest need, adding that the disrupted services could also reverse gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

According to estimates from UNAIDS in 2018, more than two thirds of people diagnosed with HIV worldwide, are living in the region of Sub-Sahara. These estimates account for 25.7 million people in the region.

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