Home Health "Climate disruption can lead to an increased risk of HIV infection"

"Climate disruption can lead to an increased risk of HIV infection"

Find the red thread every day, the meeting environment release.

The health effects of climate change are now better documented. Multiplication of food crises, recruescence of certain epidemics and cardiovascular diseases, heat stress caused by heat waves: climate disturbance is even considered by scientists "The biggest global threat to public health in the 21st centurye century. "

In areas that are particularly affected by climatic instability – for example in Africa – and where large pandemics such as malaria or HIV are rife, these risks are taken very seriously. Indeed, after studying, scientists have observed an increase in the number of HIV infections during extreme events related to climate instability. New work published in the journal Plos One mid-January go in this direction. Their author, the American epidemiologist Andrea Low, points to the highest prevalence of the virus for young women during drought waves in southern Africa and insists that these results are taken into account in the climate change policy. to control the epidemic, especially among the most vulnerable populations in rural areas.

What do you think are the effects of climate change on the HIV epidemic?

Many studies show that climate disruption can lead to behavioral changes that increase the risk of HIV infection. Marshall Burke [professeur adjoint au département de la science du système Terre à Stanford, ndlr] for example, allocates 11% of HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa for intense rainfall or severe drought in rural areas affected by the epidemic. These new infections may be the result of increasing the use of paid sex in displaced populations, but also of giving up health insurance to feed themselves. I came across this study just as I was traveling for a project to investigate the epidemic ("Population-based HIV impact assessment", in English) about the populations in southern Africa. It was in 2015 and 2016: the drought that struck this region was terrible. So I wondered if we could assess the impact on behavior, prevalence of HIV in the population and treatment, although in these areas many people with the virus use antiretroviral drugs and the number of new contaminants are decreasing.

What was your survey method?

For this study, I met geospatial data from two years of drought (2014-2016) in Lesotho with the results of the national survey on the HIV epidemic conducted between 2016 and 2017, with particular attention to infections. and the non-detectability of the viral load. In particular, I wanted to verify whether the impoverishment caused by low rainfall can be associated with higher risks and vulnerabilities, especially among young women in rural communities.

Have we underestimated the impact of the climate crisis on large pandemics such as HIV?

My results do not allow us to say that drought is the direct cause of the observed facts. That said, many studies state that climate change will lead to significant migration flows. These population movements can have serious consequences for the dynamics of the epidemic, if entire sections of the population suddenly have no access to care and treatment of the disease and if the infection increases – which other studies have shown. This will be crucial for controlling the epidemic in southern Africa, where HIV prevalence is quite high.

Which answer can be given?

Ideally, governments and international organizations can ensure that these populations have good access to the health system, but also preventive tools such as the Prep [un traitement préventif du VIH]. and medications such as antiretroviral agents. In a perfect world, this could lead to a kind of regional system of universal access to care funded by different countries. We must also be able to innovate to better reach migrants in terms of prevention and screening.

Florian Bardou


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