On Tuesday, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that more than 400 people were infected with HIV in Libya in 2019. It added that they have been confronted with a severe shortage of medicines for months due to the state’s focus on combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuesday marked World AIDS Day as an estimated 38 million people around the globe are living with HIV, or have gone on to develop AIDS. It added that the stigma and discrimination facing patients makes many reluctant to go to hospital for treatment.
The NCDC pointed out that the healthcare system in Libya was already struggling with a shortage of doctors and nurses. The pandemic is now exerting further pressure on this fragile system, placing doctors at tremendous risk.
“Insufficient measures to prevent infections, and a lack of protective personal protective equipment lead to a rise in infections and deaths among medical staff, which increases staff shortages further”, it noted.
Now, UN analysts estimate that the global COVID-19 outbreak could cause 290,000 people to contract HIV worldwide. They project that an additional 148,000 people could die from AIDS.
Several factors account for this projected spike. One is that HIV patients are avoiding hospitals, another has to do with sexual violence.