On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19, a global pandemic. While sub-Saharan Africa and other high-burden HIV regions have had relatively fewer cases of COVID-19 than the rest of the world to date, the number of cases continues to rise daily. There is not specific data on COVID-19 and HIV yet. However, individuals who are immunosuppressed, including people living with HIV (PLHIV), are at known higher risk from the novel coronavirus. Because of this, immediate precautions are needed by Ministries of Health to prevent COVID-19 spread and ensure continuity of essential HIV services in the event of an outbreak.
To help national HIV programs prepare, CHAI has developed this memo to summarize the critical actions Ministries of Health can take today to support their PLHIV communities. Without these interventions, Ministries risk exposing PLHIV populations to COVID-19 and accelerate the spread amongst vulnerable groups.