Impact of COVID-19 on the HIV care continuum in Asia: Insights from people living with HIV, key populations, and HIV healthcare providers

Hung, Chien-Ching and Banerjee, Sumita and Gilada, Ishwar and Green, Kimberly and Inoue, Yoji and Kamarulzaman, Adeeba and Leyritana, Kate and Phanuphak, Nittaya and Wong, Timothy and Wong, TinHung and Singh, Shikha and Choi, Jun Yong (2022) Impact of COVID-19 on the HIV care continuum in Asia: Insights from people living with HIV, key populations, and HIV healthcare providers. PLoS ONE, 17 (7). ISSN 1932-6203, DOI

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Background The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened continued access to public health services worldwide, including HIV prevention and care. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV service access and delivery in the Asia region. Methods A descriptive, cross-sectional, online study, conducted between October-November 2020, assessed the impact of COVID-19 on HIV prevention and care among people living with HIV (PLHIV), key populations (KPs), and healthcare providers (HCPs). The study populations were recruited across ten Asian countries/territories, covering Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Results Across the region, 702 PLHIV, 551 KPs, and 145 HCPs were recruited. Both PLHIV and KPs reported decreased or had yet to visit hospitals/clinics (PLHIV: 35.9%; KPs: 57.5%), reduced HIV RNA viral load testing (21.9%; 47.3%), and interruptions in antiretroviral therapy (ART) (22.3%) or decreased/complete stop of HIV prevention medication consumption (40.9%). Travel constraints (40.6%), financial issues (28.9%), and not receiving prescription refills (26.9%) were common reasons for interrupted ART access, whereas reduced engagements in behaviours that could increase the risks of HIV acquisition and transmission (57.7%), travel constraints (41.8%), and less hospital/clinic visits (36.7%) underlie the disruptions in HIV preventive medications. Decreased visits from PLHIV/KPs and rescheduled appointments due to clinic closure were respectively reported by 50.7%-52.1% and 15.6%-17.0% of HCPs; 43.6%-61.9% observed decreased ART/preventive medication refills. Although 85.0% of HCPs adopted telemedicine to deliver HIV care services, 56.4%-64.1% of PLHIV/KPs were not using telehealth services. Conclusions The COVID-19 pandemic substantially disrupted HIV prevention to care continuum in Asia at the time of the study. The findings highlighted differences in HIV prevention to care continuum via telehealth services utilisation by PLHIV, KPs, and HCPs. Efforts are needed to optimise infrastructure and adapt systems for continued HIV care with minimal disruptions during health emergency crises.

Item Type: Article
Funders: Gilead Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19; HIV; Healthcare
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine > Medicine Department
Depositing User: Ms. Juhaida Abd Rahim
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2023 07:33
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2023 03:46

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