Community innovations for people living with HIV during COVID-19
This article is based on a presentation given at a recent conference of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC), held in Washington, DC in the USA, during November 2021. It outlines some of the community-led innovations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights how crucial these were to maintain the health and wellbeing of people living with or affected by HIV. Their role as a necessary complement to health services in many countries suggests further exploration of stronger links between healthcare workers and the community would be beneficial to improve the quality of life of people affected by HIV, and in preparation for future pandemics.
The disruption to HIV services globally during the COVID-19 pandemic has been recorded in multiple articles and reports, for example, Shiau et al (2020). During 2020 and early 2021, people living with or affected by HIV in many countries faced personal difficulties, increased mental health problems and, in many cases, a lack of access to humanitarian and other support due to existing discrimination and structural barriers. These included often marginalised populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers, people who use drugs, and trans people. Gaps in health and social services and support required rapid responses from civil society organisations and communities, in a large part because existing systems were overwhelmed with COVID-19-related demands (Pinto and Park, 2020).
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