PEPFAR Technical Guidance in Context of COVID-19 Pandemic


In January 2020, a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was identified as the causative agent of an outbreak of viral pneumonia centered in Wuhan, Hubei, China. The disease caused by this virus is called COVID-19. The disease is now widespread, and nearly every country in the world has reported cases.

Widespread disturbances of international travel and shortages of medical supplies have led to challenges in the provision of medical care. In the areas hardest hit, medical facilities have been overwhelmed by large numbers of COVID-19 patients, and stay-at-home orders and staff illness provide additional challenges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, PEPFAR remains committed to continuing essential HIV prevention and treatment services, while maintaining a safe healthcare environment for clients and staff. In order to meet our commitment to uninterrupted care and treatment for PLHIV and the prevention of deaths among PLHIV due to HIV associated co-morbidities, PEPFAR is committed to adapting HIV services, so that PLHIV have the best possible outcomes within the context of stretched healthcare systems.

The evidence on the impact of COVID-19 amongst PLHIV is still scarce. There is currently no direct evidence that people with HIV are at higher risk of COVID-19, or of severe disease if affected. As more data becomes available from regions of high prevalence, we will continue to update the field on the effect of COVID-19 on PLHIV. HIV virological suppression is a critical intervention that improves the health of all PLHIV, and PEPFAR is committed to ensuring that PLHIV have uninterrupted care. Currently, there is no known effective treatment for COVID-19. We discourage the use of experimental therapies outside of registered clinical trials, as they may be dangerous. Drug-drug interactions with ART and other HIV related therapies may pose risks for our PLHIV clients.

Technical guidance is provided here for a variety of PEPFAR issues, including the care of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and will be updated routinely as the situation evolves. Visit PEPFAR's COVID-19 resource page for more updates.