Viguerie A, Jacobson EU, Hicks KA, Bates L, Carrico J, Honeycutt A, Lyles C, Farnham PG. Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on HIV outcomes in the United States: a modeling study. Sex Transm Dis. 2024 Apr 1;51(4):299-304. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000001935

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic impacted sexual behaviors and the HIV continuum-of-care in the United States, reducing HIV testing and diagnosis, and use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and antiretroviral therapy (ART). We aim to understand the future implications of these effects through a modeling study.

METHODS: We first ran our compartmental model of HIV transmission in the US accounting for pandemic-related short-term changes in transmission behavior and HIV prevention and care provision in 2020-2021 only. We then ran a comparison scenario that did not apply pandemic effects but assumed a continuation of past HIV prevention and care trends. We compared results from the two scenarios through 2024.

RESULTS: HIV incidence was 4·4% lower in 2020-21 for the pandemic scenario compared with the no-pandemic scenario due to reduced levels of transmission behavior, despite reductions in HIV prevention and care caused by the pandemic. However, reduced care led to less viral load suppression among people with HIV (PWH) in 2020 and, in turn, our model resulted in a slightly greater incidence of 2·0% from 2022-24 in the COVID-19 scenario, as compared to the non-COVID scenario.

DISCUSSION: Disruptions in HIV prevention and care services during COVID-19 may lead to somewhat higher post-pandemic HIV incidence, than assuming pre-pandemic trends in HIV care and prevention continued. These results underscore the importance of continuing to increase HIV prevention and care efforts in the coming years.

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