December 6, 2022

EHG scoping review now published by WHO

The WHO Regional office for Europe has published the scoping review investigating the disruption in services for HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted invections during the COVID-19 pandemic in the WHO European Region. The scoping review was undertaken by EHG and findings have been presented to key stakeholders inWHO regional office for Europe, WHO Member States and ECDC.

The scoping review provides an overview and analysis of publications and data from 1 February 2020–15 September 2021 that assessed the disruption of HIV, sexually transmitted infection (‎STI)‎ and viral hepatitis services, and/or reasons forthe disruption and adaptive measures implemented as a result of ‎the COVID-19‎ pandemic in the WHO European Region. The scoping review identified 132 relevant publications, with almost two-thirds in the form of grey literature; in addition validated data from UNAIDS and WHO databasesand surveys were included in the analysis. Data suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused various degrees of disruption of these services, in particular at the very onset of the pandemic, with some rebound by the end of 2020, but with persistent reports of disruption into 2021. Large variations across countries and within countries were noted. The services most affected appeared to be testing services for each of HIV, STIs and hepatitis; hepatitis treatment services; and HIV prevention services – although the impact of the pandemic on harm reduction services, including OST was highly variable across the region. Antiretroviral therapy (‎ART)‎ services were generally more resilient, however a disruption of new enrolments into ART was evident. The trends depicted in the review are comparable to findings globally and from other regions and countries, although further data, particularly validated national data and disaggregated data, are required to confirm the impact on COVID-19 on these services as well as specific coverage gaps of key populations in the region. More evidence is also required on the effectiveness and sustainabilityof adaptive mechanisms applied during the pandemic. Considerations for a more efficient future monitoring of disruption in services include: supporting monitoring at national level; stimulating rigorous implementation research; integrating and streamlining data collection at global level; and improving coordination of service disruption monitoring.

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