How Does the New Coronavirus Affect the People with Tuberculosis And HIV?

Since the initial coronavirus outbreaks back in early December 2019, which happened in Wuhan, China, we keep learning more and more about this new and potentially deadly virus. And so, we have learned that we have been introduced to a cruel virus that does not hesitate when it comes to taking more and more lives. 

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Today we are faced with a global pandemic. We have been instructed to self-isolate and stay home, avoiding any human-to-human contact as much as possible. These measurements of precaution are meant to protect us and the ones that we love, especially those who have been diagnosed with a chronic disease of any kind.

In today’s article, we will discuss the impact that the new coronavirus supposedly has on some of the most vulnerable ones – those who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS and/or have been diagnosed with tuberculosis. We will also discuss the socioeconomic impact that this virus has on countries such as Africa and India where tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS rates are supposedly the highest of them all. 

Tuberculosis and HIV patients exposed to a higher risk of the new coronavirus

Since it first appeared, COVID-19 has taken many people’s lives. This new virus managed to overflood, what we thought was, a well-functioning health system in many highly developed countries such as the USA, Italy, China, Russia, etc. While some of them have managed the situation better than others, nothing is over yet. We are yet to face the negative results that are to come from this whole experience. 

But the question is – Is the coronavirus has managed to have such a great impact on highly developed countries, what happens to countries such as India and Africa where we see poor socioeconomic conditions every day? And what happens to the most vulnerable people of them all – those living with HIV/AIDS and/or tuberculosis?

Africa has dangerously high sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates. But it is HIV/AIDS that interests us the most, as a chronic disease that has a significant impact on the body’s immune system, thus making it less possible for it to fight a dangerous virus such as the coronavirus. And then we also have India, where every day we see new patients diagnosed with tuberculosis – a chronic respiratory disease that interferes with the function of the respiratory system and weakens the immune system. 

Both HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis create the perfect environment for the new coronavirus to take over the body, causing a more serious infection to happen, possibly even causing death. 

Multiple factors play their part in increasing HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis rates on a daily level. Having multiple sex partners, engaging in unprotected sex of any kind, drug and/or alcohol abuse, poverty, etc. are only some of the risk factors that cause the HIV/AIDS rates in Africa to increase. For tuberculosis, poverty, once again plays its part, which allows the infection to rapidly spread.

And then there is the problem of a co-infection, in which the patients struggle with both HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Although there is still no exact scientific data that has fully explored this topic, what we have learned so far is that we need to protect these vulnerable risk groups as much as possible.

For HIV/AIDS that would mean increasing awareness, frequent testing, and effective treatment with antiretroviral therapy. As far as we know, patients who receive proper treatment for HIV/AIDS and with that successfully control their symptoms, are not exposed to a bigger risk for COVID-19 as compared to the general population. However, that is not the case for those whose infection remains uncontrolled and so, we ought to control it as best as we can, using the therapy that we have at our disposal. 

The same rule applies to those struggling with tuberculosis. These patients need the required treatment as soon as possible, in a combination with self-isolating and social distancing to prevent being affected by the new coronavirus.    

Conclusion

We are faced with some hard times and conditions, some of us more than others. It is especially important for people diagnosed with a chronic disease, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis to get tested and acquire the recommended treatment in time, as a prevention method for the new COVID-19. It is countries such as Africa and India, where the rates of these diseases are dangerously high, that need to implement frequent testing and act to raise awareness among the population to help protect them against the symptoms and possible death due to COVID-19.

References

https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/hiv-tuberculosis-coronavirus-high-risk-africa-south-asia/2020/04/08/78820db6-737d-11ea-ad9b-254ec99993bc_story.html

https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/overview

https://www.usaid.gov/global-health/health-areas/tuberculosis/technical-areas/tuberculosis-india

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