PEPFAR head takes on COVID-19

Progress against HIV made through expanded testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis, voluntary medical male circumcision, and targeted interventions for young women and girls is imperiled by the COVID-19 pandemic, warns a Washington Post profile of Dr. Deborah Birx, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, who is also coordinating the White House coronavirus task force. The article cites challenges maintaining people living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment and the possibility of future reductions in funding for HIV programmes. It suggests that “having the head of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), who is intimately aware of the ins and outs of every country’s treatment programme, in charge of the coronavirus outbreak might just make the difference — for not just one epidemic but two” (The Washington Post, 25 March 2020).