MONICA KAYOMBO, Lusaka
THE Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has commended the Ministry of Health for recording major successes in the fight against HIV and coronavirus by employing various interventions. This came to light recently during the Media Science Cafe training workshop for journalists under the theme ‘HIV and COVID-19 pandemic’. CDC surveillance strengthening technical advisor Jinas Hines said Government has implemented many strategies in the fight against HIV over the past 15 years and COVID-19. “I think Zambia is doing very well. It has implemented more community services, helped ensure that people living with HIV are on treatment,” Dr Hines said. Asked on whether HIV mutates like COVID-19, Dr Hines said the former transmutes more compared to the latter. Dr Hines said under World Health Organisation recommendations, pregnant women and lactating mothers are allowed to get vaccinated against COVID-19. “Pregnant women are recommended to get the vaccine at this time. There is no recommendation for not getting the vaccine if you have been breastfeeding,” he said. Dr Hines said the media has an important role to play in dissemination of information to help debunk myths surrounding COVID-19 vaccines.
He said HIV and AIDS and coronavirus have distinguished similarities and differences which can be pointed out. Some of the similarities are that both are viruses which were recognised at two different times and transmitted from animals to humans.
“The spread of HIV occurred 40 years ago while COVID-19 was recognised in 2019,” Dr Hines said. He said HIV and COVID-19 have similar characteristics because they mutate. Dr Hines said COVID-19 causes chronic infections while HIV affects the immune system and makes those infected prone to infectious diseases such as meningitis and other common ailments.
He said HIV is transmitted primarily through sex and blood transfusion, among others, while coronavirus is spread through respiratory pathogens. Dr Hines said there is hope that an HIV vaccine will be discovered in future as scientists have continued researching to find a solution. He said billions of dollars have so far been invested in finding an HIV vaccine in undertakings such as clinical trials.