The Covid-19 pandemic reduced the number of tests and new HIV diagnoses in France in 2020

In 2020, the number of discoveries of seropositivity of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) was down sharply due to a decrease in screening linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, underlines, Tuesday, November 29, the agency Public Health France (SPF).

The number of HIV seropositive discoveries in 2020 was thus estimated at 4,856, a decrease of 22% compared to 2019. With 5.2 million HIV serologies carried out by medical biology laboratories, the screening activity for HIV, which had increased between 2013 and 2019, decreased by 14% between 2019 and 2020.

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“These data must however be interpreted with caution, the Covid-19 pandemic having resulted in a drop in the participation of health professionals in the various surveillance systems”, notes the public health agency in a press release.

“The decrease in the number of diagnoses of HIV infection is mainly explained by the decrease in the use of screening in 2020, especially during the first confinement, explains Florence Lot, of the infectious diseases department of SPF, quoted in the press release. It could also be due to lower exposure to HIV linked to physical distancing measures. “

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A later screening, therefore more risky

Consequence of this decline in screening: a possible delay in diagnosis and access to antiviral treatments, the preventive effect of which has a direct impact on the dynamics of the epidemic, notes the agency, on the eve of World Health Day. struggle against AIDS.

In 2020, 30% of HIV infections were discovered at an advanced stage of infection, which constitutes a loss of opportunity in terms of individual management and a risk of transmitting HIV to partners before starting antiretroviral treatment. .

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A decrease in screening was also observed in 2020 for three bacterial STIs (infections with Chlamydia trachomatis – or chlamidiosis -, gonorrhea and syphilis) of the order of 6% in the private sector and more markedly in free information, screening and diagnostic centers (CeGIDD), of the order of 30%, due to partial or total closures during the first containment.

In this context, SPF is rebroadcasting its campaign “Living with HIV is first of all to live”, which aims to increase knowledge of the preventive effect of antiretroviral treatment (TASP) and to fight against discrimination linked to seropositivity. to HIV.

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The World with AFP

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