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Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection ; 2022.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-2069363


Background To contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, non-pharmacologic interventions, including lockdown and social distancing, may have adverse impact on access to HIV testing and care. This study investigated the impact of Covid-19 on HIV testing and care at a major hospital in Taiwan in 2020-2021. Methods The numbers of clients seeking anonymous HIV voluntary counseling and testing were compared 2 years before (2018-2019) and 2 years after Covid-19 outbreak (2020-2021). People living with HIV (PLWH) who sought care at the hospital during 2018-2021 were included to examine the status of HIV care delivery and disposition. Results The annual number of HIV screening tests performed had significantly decreased from 2,507 and 2,794 in 2018 and 2019, respectively, to 2,161 and 1,737 in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The rate of discontinuation of HIV care among PLWH was 3.7% in 2019, which remained unchanged in 2020 (3.7%) and 2021 (3.8%). The respective percentage of annual plasma HIV RNA testing <2 times increased from 8.4% and 7.8% in 2018 and 2019 to 7.0% and 10.7% in 2020 and 2021, so was that of annual syphilis testing <2 times (10.1% and 8.8% to 7.9% and 12.0%). The rates of plasma HIV RNA <200 copies/ml ranged from 97.0% to 98.1% in 2018-2021. Conclusions During the Covid-19 pandemic, access to HIV counseling and testing was significantly limited. While the number of HIV-related testing decreased, the impact of Covid-19 on the continuity of antiretroviral therapy and viral suppression among PLWH appeared to be minimal in Taiwan.