How COVID-19 has impacted AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis

July 8, 2021
by Madeline Elminowski, Friends of the Global Fight

Guest post: Meet our International Conference sponsor, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Friends of the Global Fight advocates for U.S. support of the Global Fund, and its goal to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Before COVID-19, 2.4 million people died yearly from HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria worldwide. When the pandemic began, it negatively impacted approximately 75 percent of the programs fighting HIV, TB and malaria.

As countries around the world went into lockdown, it became increasingly challenging to make disease prevention and testing appointments for HIV, TB and malaria, and there were interruptions in treatment and diagnostics services. Health facilities shifted their priorities to address the growing number of COVID-19 cases, thus lessening the amount of attention given to HIV, malaria and TB programs. Additionally, due to lockdowns, countries became more vulnerable to malaria outbreaks as deliveries like mosquito nets were delayed. Overall, data from the Global Fund shows that from April to September 2020, HIV testing fell 41 percent, TB referrals declined by 59 percent and malaria diagnoses decreased by 31 percent.

Beyond the healthcare disruptions, COVID-19 exacerbated socioeconomic inequalities for those living with HIV, malaria and TB. Due to strict lockdowns that kept many people from working, many people lost access not only to crucial healthcare, but also to food and housing.

The Global Fund

The Global Fund is a partnership designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. The Global Fund invests more than $4 billion USD a year to support programs led by governments, local medical experts, civil society, technical agencies, and people affected by the diseases. This unique partnership has saved over 38 million lives since its creation in 2002 and has led to a remarkable 61 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths, a 25 percent decline in TB deaths and a nearly 50 percent decline in malaria deaths.

The Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response

When COVID-19 hit, the Global Fund took immediate action, investing $1 billion to help countries respond to the pandemic while also protecting AIDS, TB and malaria programming. Through the COVID-19 Response Mechanism, the Global Fund provides further assistance to countries, including recruiting and protecting health care workers, scaling up the delivery of rapid diagnostic tests and other crucial medical interventions, and paving the way for a successful vaccine rollout.

“Combatting COVID-19 and defeating HIV, TB and malaria are inextricably interconnected,” said Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund. “We won’t get back on track on the three epidemics while countries are still reeling from COVID-19.”

Want to learn more?

  • See this new interactive web page on the Global Fund’s COVID-19 response mechanism.
  • Get frequent updates on how COVID-19 is impacting the global response to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria
  • See how U.S. investments will help the Global Fund scale up delivery of critical COVID-19 diagnostics
  • Follow Friends of the Global Fight on Twitter

Want to do more?

  • Write a letter-to-the-editor or op-ed in your local paper about what you’ve learned
  • Tell your members of Congress to continue investing in the Global Fund and its vital work around the world

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