LEFT BEHIND UNDER LOCKDOWN : The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on children with HIV and their caregivers in Uganda.

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It has been one year since the Government of Uganda implemented its national policy responses to COVID-19. These sweeping measures included a suspension of public transport, border closure, further suspension of all private transport. night-time curfew. and the closure of many businesses all put into place during March 2020. Police and security forces enforced these restrictions with violence and arbitrary detention and also used COVID-19 as a pretense to target criminalized populations such as sex workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans. For months. families were unable to move freely, unable to earn an income. and faced major barriers when they sought essential services such as medical care. The Uganda government provided virtually no support to buffer the harm from these policy decisions, despite receiving substantial amounts of emergency COVID-19 relief funding from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund. bilateral donors, as well as contributions from private businesses. The government's decision to carry out a complete restriction on public and private movement, as well as a shutdown of the economy, resulted in massive suffering. Moreover, these policy measures were launched without meaningful community consultation or preparation.

Unsurprisingly, there was no consideration given to the needs of children living with HIV as well as others with urgent health needs. to be able to continue their treatment, stay healthy, and get access to food and other essentials while their families struggled with severe economic decline brought about by response to the COVID-19 pandemic. HIV-exposed children and children who did not know their HIV status also faced barriers to HIV testing. Communities raised concerns about the potential for harm, but these were ignored. Immediately after the lockdown started. Health GAP and other HIV and health advocacy organizations began to learn about the devastating consequences of the restrictions for HIV-positive Ugandans. The government's COVID-19 response quickly triggered life-threatening disruptions to HIV treatment, prevention, and care for adults and children, undermining years of progress in the fight against HIV in just a matter of months.