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How can programmes assure continued access to HIV services?

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See full answer It is important to assure continuous access to essential HIV prevention, testing and treatment services also where measurements of confinement are implemented within the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While access to essential services should be maintained, adapted and evidence-based measures to reduce possible transmission should be considered and implemented. These include[12]: * Applying standard precautions for all patients (including ensuring that all patients cover their nose and mouth with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing, offering a medical mask to patients with suspected COVID-19 infection while they are in waiting in the service, perform hand hygiene etc.) * Health care and outreach workers, as well as peer educators and clients should apply adapted hand hygiene measures * Ensuring triage, early recognition, and source control (isolating patients with suspected COVID-19 infection) * Ensure there is adequate ventilation in all areas in the healthcare facility * Spatial separation of at least 1 metre should ideally be maintained between all patients within all types of services * Cleaning and disinfection procedures should be followed consistently and correctly * Dispensing medicines (for treatment of HIV, TB and other chronic conditions such as opioid dependence) for longer periods allowing reduced frequency of patient visits * Consider reduction of services to the most critical ones (provision of essential treatment and prevention services; services such as counselling sessions may be reduced or adapted) Generally, vulnerable populations, including members of key populations, as well as homeless and/or displaced people may be at increased risk of infection – because of additional comorbidities impacting on their immune system, reduced ability to apply measures of confinement and social distancing, as well as generally limited access to health services. It is critical that services that reach these populations such as community-based services, drop-in centres and outreach services can continue providing life-saving prevention (distribution of condoms, needles and syringes), testing and treatment while securing safety of staff and clients. Services can be adapted according to above considerations where applicable.
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