[en] Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment measures dramatically affected the health care systems including the screening of human immunodeficiency virus and the management people living with HIV around the world by making the access to preventive care services and specific medical monitoring more difficult.
Objective: To study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the holistic care of people living with HIV in Liège (Belgium).
Methods: In this retrospective observational study conducted in Liège University Hospital, we compared the out-patient follow-up of HIV-infected individuals as well as the number of new HIV diagnoses between 2019 and 2020 and between the different waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Results: In 2020, when compared to 2019, we observed a significant decrease in the number of new HIV diagnoses, especially during the first wave of the pandemic, and in the number of consultations undertaken by sexual health services, psychologists and specialists in infectious diseases at our HIV clinic. We also observed a decrease in the number of viral load assays and blood CD4 + T-cells count analyses performed, although we found less patients with HIV plasma viral load above 400 copies per mL in 2020. Finally, we noted a significant reduction in terms of screening of our HIV-infected patients for hepatitis C, syphilis, colorectal and anal cancers and hypercholesterolemia.
Conclusions: Our experience exhibits the deleterious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the HIV care and the need to implement new strategies to guarantee its continuum.