CONSIDERATIONS FOR HIV SELF-TESTING IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND ITS RESPONSE: AN OPERATIONAL UPDATE

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a major global health threat. It has caused worldwide disruptions, such as economic slow-downs, travel restrictions, interruptions to the global supply of medical, diagnostic and infection prevention commodities, and has severely impacted public health in many countries. As of 14 June 2020, it was estimated that there were at least 7.98 million cases of and over 434,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

There is limited evidence to suggest that the risk of infection or complications of COVID-19 among people living with HIV (PLHIV) who are clinically and immunologically stable on antiretroviral therapy (ART) may be comparable with the general population. However, people with HIV who are not on ART and those with advanced disease have an increased risk of infection and related complications in general. Moreover, some people with HIV have comorbidities that are known risk factors for the complications of COVID-19, such as lung disease (e.g. due to active or previously treated tuberculosis), diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney and liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), certain other noncommunicable diseases and pregnancy. As such, they may be at increased risk for COVID-19 not directly related to HIV.