What the HIV Pandemic Experience can Teach the U.S. about the COVID-19 Response

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2020 Oct 5. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002520. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which was first recognized in December 2019, is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic that is having a devastating impact on human health, society and the global economy.

METHODS: We summarize lessons learned from the HIV epidemic that offer insights about how the response to COVID-19 can be improved, especially in the United States which has incurred one quarter of world’s infections to date.

RESULTS: Lessons learned include: the need to develop and deploy valid tests for point-of-care diagnosis and surveillance; the importance of considering HIV and COVID-19 in the context of syndemics; the potential role of structural interventions that address drivers of disparities; how existing research infrastructure can be leveraged to accelerate development of therapeutics and vaccines; and how modeling that is tailored to regional epidemics can inform policy.

CONCLUSIONS: The window of opportunity to prevent a widespread COVID-19 epidemic in the United States has already closed, but it is not too late to implement a mitigation strategy that can save thousands of lives. Decisive leadership that develops policies grounded in scientific evidence is key to charting a path forward. The question is whether the United States is prepared to learn from its past successes and mistakes with the HIV epidemic to develop a nation-wide plan that puts politics aside and prioritizes saving lives.

PMID:33027152 | DOI:10.1097/QAI.0000000000002520