COVID-19 and HIV
As Persons living with HIV and AIDS (PWA) we are justifiably concerned about the implications to our health when a major pandemic threatens the country. We are already dealing with an impact to our immune systems and may have a number of questions regarding the risks and any behavioral or other interventions we need to consider to protect our health.
While, as of this writing, there are a lot of open questions about COVID-19 and its impact on PWA we do have some insight into the potential impact. I’ll start by suggesting a video of a presentation by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This presentation is from a seminar on aging and HIV sposored by the Gay Mens Health Crisis (GMHC), a long time AIDS organization from New York. The seminar was held in September 2020. His discussion of COVID-19and HIV is a great introduction to the subject.
Update (1/2021) While there is still little evidence that PLWH are at higher risk for COVID infection or severe disease outcomes based solely on HIV status, there is some evidence that those with low CD4 counts ( <350 ) or high viral loads may have worse outcomes. If you are in this risk group, please continue to take precautions.
This leads to a number of questions that PWA might want to better understand:
Q: Does HIV put me at a greater risk from SARS-COV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 disease)?
A: The evidence to date does not show a greater risk to people with HIV than those who are HIV-. That being said, PWA are at risk based on the same comorbidities (pre-existing conditions) as are the rest of the population, many of which are relatively common among PWA. Diabetes, hypertension, liver and kidney disease among others. IT does appear to be important to keep HIV disease under control to keep as close to normal immune functioning as possible.
Q: Do the Antiretroviral (ARV) medications I’m taking to control HIV or as PreP prevent and treat a SARS-COV-2 infection?
A: There is no evidence to date that HIV ARV medications are effective against COVID-19.
Q: Do I need to take special precautions against COVID-19 if I have HIV infection?
A: PWA are encouraged to take the same precautions as others against COVID-19. If you have a condition that puts you at higher risk, as described by the latest public health guidance, you may need to take extra precautions. HIV alone does not currently put you in a higher risk group.
For the latest information, see the California Department of Public health website:
Q: There is so much information on COVID-19, much of it contradictory. Where can I go for more information?
A: There are a number of reputable sites for more information. The information changes frequently as we learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its impact on the body. Pozabilities will try and provide references to the places we have found with reliable information. If you think we have missed one with information relevant to PWA, please reach out to us via the contact page on this site.
NIAID Coronavirus Information: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses
NIAID HIV/AIDS (includes COVID-19): https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/hivaids
California COVID-19 Site: https://covid19.ca.gov/
CA Dept of Public Health HIV/AIDS: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DOA/Pages/OAmain.aspx