No drugs or food: Coronavirus restriction increases health risk in HIV-infected people with LGBT +
NAIROBI / MEXICO CITY (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -Starting with a headache, nausea and diarrhea occurred. Within two weeks, gay Uganda barber Eric was unable to walk without HIV medication and had to be hospitalized.
“I was hospitalized for a week and four days. Mr. Eric, 26, called by phone from his village in Ntungamamo district in western Uganda.
“Doctors said they shouldn’t stop taking HIV drugs, but that wasn’t my choice. There’s no transportation available due to lockdowns. Walk 20 km (12 miles) to the refill clinic I couldn’t. ”
According to the HIV / AIDS organization, lockdowns have prevented some HIV-infected LGBT + people from receiving the life-saving treatment they need, and COVID-19 infection puts the immune system at risk. It may be exposed.
Rights groups reported being forced to treat by order at home despite attempts by governments and NGOs at sexual minority hearings from Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique to Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, and Trinidad and Tobago. is doing.
Matteo Cassolato, HIV’s technical lead at the forefront of philanthropic aids, is receiving more grant applications from the grassroots LGBT + group who are struggling to get their medicines for COVID-19. I said.
“People living with HIV all over the world have problems getting regular treatment for blockades, but for groups like the LGBT + community, their vulnerabilities and what they face It’s more challenging because of discrimination, “Cassolato said.
“They have been persecuted and arrested in some countries, or stopped by police while they were forced to go home to collect drugs and go home. Often because of prejudice and homophobia It’s hard to describe myself. ”
According to Kasolat, his organization has just approved a grant to help transgender people in Trinidad and Tobago who have difficulty obtaining drugs due to closures.
Limited business hours and high demand in health care facilities and pharmacies are preventing people in trans, who are easily visible and who may face harassment, from taking the drug, he said. It was
Clinic closed, exercise restricted
Currently, nearly 38 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, and since the beginning of the 1980s, the global epidemic of AIDS has killed approximately 35 million people worldwide.
According to UNAIDS, homosexual men account for nearly 20% of new HIV infections and are 27 times more likely to be infected with HIV than other men.
Meanwhile, women in trans are 12 times as likely to be infected with HIV as the general population, UNAIDS said, adding that 16.5% of transgender women live with HIV.
HIV cannot be cured, but infection can be controlled with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). This will reduce the virus level, prevent the virus from being transmitted, and prevent full-scale AIDS.
Campaign activists say that while about 60% of people living with HIV / AIDS have access to drug therapy, lockdowns are complicating sexual minorities already living at the boundaries of society.
Many live in countries where homosexual relations are exposed to crime and homophobia is widespread and are subject to discrimination in the workplace, housing, education and healthcare.
According to the LGBT + rights group, COVID-19 continues to suffer worldwide, with LGBT + people not only being blamed and targeted, but also being able to obtain drugs and earn income through shutdown. , Is pushing many people into crisis.
In Uganda, for example, 19 LGBT + people, some of whom were HIV-positive, were imprisoned while homosexuals were sentenced to life imprisonment and accused of risking the spread of coronaviruses. It was
In countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon, due to lack of transportation, ARVs are unavailable due to lack of transportation, or transportation costs cannot be paid due to loss of income.
In many of these countries, LGBT + enabled drop-in health centers are forced to close or limit time, and in some countries HIV / AIDS services are diverted to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been.
In Egypt, for example, a clinic where patients collect their drugs is used as a COVID-19 test center, and LGBT + people hesitate to visit.
“People living with HIV should not be afraid to pick up the drug,” said Joe Stoke, deputy director of Middle East and North Africa, Human Rights Watch.
“The government should ensure that people already facing health problems can get their drugs safely.”
According to human rights groups, more than 1,000 civil servants (including some LGBT + communities) have been left untreated since March in Mexico due to drug deficiencies due to changes in the way governments buy drugs. I will.
Worker Victor of the Ministry of Education is struggling to get a three-month supply of ARVs from the government in March and is now worried that his medicines may run out again.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” the 28-year-old gay phoned the Thomson Reuters Foundation from his home in Mexico City. “I don’t know if I have to live the same fear, same worry, same uncertainty again.”
No food, real risk
Some LGBT + people had no choice but to stop taking the drugs because they didn’t have the money to buy food and couldn’t stand the strong fasting drugs.
Real Raymond, executive director of the charity Mbarara Rise Foundation, which delivers ARVs by bicycle to about 70 LGBT + people in rural Uganda, says finding a daily meal is for some people. He said it was a problem.
Many LGBT + people work at bars, casinos, or other meetinghouses to earn their daily income, and because they don’t have the money to eat, they are blocked and closed.
“Some people stopped their daily HIV treatment because they ran out of food to eat. Many people stopped taking the drug altogether because the drugs they were prescribed were too strong to take on an empty stomach.” He said.
“They tell me that whenever they take them on an empty stomach, their bodies are too weak, enthusiastic, and headaches.”
The World Health Organization states that there is no evidence that the risk of COVID-19 differs among people living with HIV receiving ARV compared to the general population.
However, people with advanced HIV who are not taking ARV may have an increased risk of COVID-19-related infections and health complications.
UNAIDS will protect the government’s resources for HIV / sexual health programs that are sensitive to the needs of LGBTI people and ensure continued access to ARVs through months of pharmacy, home delivery, virtual consultation, etc. I asked.
“Undoubtedly, many countries have a very strong and strong response to COVID-19, which demonstrates excellent leadership,” said Senior Adviser of Community Support for UNAIDS in East and Southern Africa. Christoforos Mallouris said.
“But in every effort to implement these measures, we must not forget marginalized groups such as the LGBTIQ community. Even when faced with COVID-19, populations are more likely than ever before. You need to make sure you are just as healthy. ”
Report by Nita Bhalla @nitabhalla and Oscar Lopez @oscarlopezgib, edited by Belinda Goldsmith. Recognize the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a Thomson Reuters charity. It covers the lives of people around the world who suffer from free or just living. Visit http://news.trust.org
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