COVID-19 pandemic still has a major impact in many countries since medical experts are still on the process of finding or developing an efficient cure or vaccine that could end it completely. However, as the world focuses on neutralizing the viral disease, another global plague might be triggered, HIV.
According to The Daily Beast's latest report, the larger region of Mississippi could be sent into a death spiral because of its dire situation, where the disease surveillance for HIV has succumbed to the global coronavirus pandemic. Laurine Ann Lewis, who was diagnosed with HIV 24 years ago, has missed her quarterly appointment for blood work this spring because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The report explained that regular blood draws are the only way to make sure that HIV patients' medication is keeping their viral loads in check. However, Lewis's doctor told her to stop coming as the cases of COVID-19 rose earlier this year, compromising Lewis's medication and other patients' treatment for HIV; blood work for people with HIV would have to wait.
Even in the best situations, living with a compromised immune system is frightening, explained by the report. Lewis, a 56-year-old mother of three, said that now is not the best time to have this kind of issue.
"I'm scared for my life," said Lewis via The Daily Beast.
"I don't know what my counts are, so I don't know if I'm healthy enough to go anywhere. I can't even see my children. I just sit in my house," she further explained.
The nurses normally tested 250 patients at a network of federally-funded clinics, Aaron E. Henry Community Health Centers, located in northwest Mississippi, two hours away up Highway 49.
COVID-19 may lead to another global plague
According to The Daily Beast, the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't just slowed down normal HIV prevention efforts, but it has also derailed them in the Deep South, a uniquely vulnerable region both to COVID-19 and HIV. Focusing on just one, because of an overburdened healthcare system, could mean letting the other become more dangerous since both these diseases disproportionately hurt communities of all colors.
"HIV is still a crisis. And it's a major crisis here in the South. But that's pushed to the side because we're responding to the COVID crisis," said the executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition, Derick Wilson, via The Daily Beast.
Wilson also explained that many of the same communities, especially Black ones, which are hit hardest by AIDS and HIV, are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it more dangerous.
"If you were to look at a heat map of persons who are contracting COVID and dying from it and also HIV rates, it would look pretty much the same," he added.
Johns Hopkins University and Medicine reported that the new daily infection is nearly triple in June for almost 300,000 total cases, increasing the coronavirus infection rate throughout the Southeast and few places more than Mississippi.
"A second wave is going to hurt us, and the wave is just getting bigger. Right now, we've got a tsunami," said clinic CEO Aurelia Jones-Taylor.