By Getrude Matayo
Covid-19 testing and contact tracing have been proposed as critical components of a safe and effective as Covid-19 public health strategy.
According to the researcher, Contact tracing may also provide a unique opportunity to conduct widespread HIV testing among other health-promotion activities.
Just one year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, officials at various agencies were begging to implement a plan to end the HIV epidemic but nations have turned their attention to a new infectious disease.
According to researchers, contact tracing, which significantly slowed down the Covid-19 epidemic in Kenya thus saving hundreds of lives, should also be used to stop HIV.
The value of such a public health workforce extends beyond contact tracing for COVID-19 and could lead to progress fighting many other health conditions.
Programs in African communities have combined HIV testing with screening for infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria as well as non-communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes
HIV researchers call the strategy ‘assisted partner notification service’, but the end-game is similar – to prevent more people from getting sick with the same disease
It involves identifying, locating, and informing someone that a partner they have had sex or used drugs with has been diagnosed with HIV. The contact is then encouraged to also test for HIV as early as possible.
Researchers say, using this model, they can take this opportunity to scale-up testing for infectious diseases as well as non-communicable diseases and by doing so improve community health
Aside from the potentially profound health benefits of a combination implementation approach, pairing COVID-19 contact tracing with testing for HIV may serve to offset the immense costs of such an approach
According to the study, the risk of passing HIV on to others usually higher during the first few months of HIV infection. Researchers analyzed data from HIV-positive females offered APS in 31 facilities between 2018 and 2019.
It is well established that HIV testing provides outstanding value and can even be cost-saving in the long term in high-prevalence populations and settings
Simply learning of a new HIV infection is known to change behavior, with meta-analyses estimating an 80% reduction in sexual activity with partners of negative or unknown HIV status and starting antiretroviral therapy with subsequent viral suppression stops HIV transmission
Among the 1,050 females who tested positive, 839 (80 percent) agreed to reveal their partners and their contacts, 59 refused (six percent) and 152 were ineligible (14 percent).
Aside from the devastating death toll, the potential long-term effects of COVID-19 on the global economy are severe and may ultimately prove to be greater than any other period in living memory