The answer cannot be just health, it requires the commitment of communities and clear communication, says the director of the International AIDS Society.

..- What are the lessons of HIV to contain COVID-19? For Kevin Osborne, director of the International AIDS Society, any response involves intensifying tests and mobilizing private funds for research.

This disease passed in four decades from being an implacable murderer in the shade to having an international day and a dedicated agency within the UN.

The AIDS epidemic, for which there is no vaccine, has left 32 million dead worldwide since the 1980s, according to the latest UNAIDS data from 2018.

Osborne, who has spent half his life living with this virus, told . what in his opinion is applicable to the coronavirus pandemic.

Question: What is the most important thing to learn from action against AIDS?

Answer: The need for political commitment is something we learned late in the AIDS response. It is important because it shows urgency in all sectors. The response to COVID-19 cannot be just health, it requires the commitment of communities and clear communication. Everyone must play a role.

Engaging and informing communities is crucial, otherwise confinements and quarantines will not work.

And we must also protect the most vulnerable. At the beginning of HIV, the population saw that it was mainly young gay men who were infected and considered that it was not worth saving them. Who would have thought then that we would now have a UN agency dedicated to this disease?

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Now we must ask ourselves how we protect the most vulnerable [ante la COVID-19] despite the social distancing.

Are there reasons for optimism?

Unlike HIV, this virus was given a very early name and things were learned about it right away. But there are also many points that we are unaware of. We must analyze how we deal with these ambiguities in our daily lives.

The best way to respond to COVID-19 is by understanding what we are dealing with. Therefore, diagnostic tests are the key. The main premise of action against HIV is based on people knowing their status. You have to diagnose and diagnose incessantly.

This also allows people to decide what to do. If we do not diagnose the health personnel and stay at home it is useless. But if you take the tests, you can go back to work. We learned all of this with the AIDS virus.

How should you deal with COVID-19 once the state of emergency is overcome?

COVID-19 will change many things. It is affecting the architecture of society. Going back to business as usual would be foolish.

HIV showed that while there was substantial progress in terms of treatment, the epidemic has not ended, and therefore efforts must be maintained so that everyone in need has access.

We need the private sector to engage in research seriously and not just with shallow promises.

What can be learned from the coronavirus, apart from its prevention?

How does COVID-19 influence people’s feeling of vulnerability, in the health system, in food security, in social interaction, at work?

All of these issues are now on the table. And we realize that the economy that we all depend on depends on the ability of each one to get up and fulfill their task.