What To Know about HIV and COVID-19

March 30, 2020 / cetad.org.tr

What To Know about HIV and COVID-19*

Serious disease risk of COVID-19 in persons with HIV is not known exactly, but persons with HIV may have concerns and questions about potential risks.

Are persons with HIV under a greater risk of COVID-19 than other persons?

Now, there is no specific information about risk of COVID-19 in persons with HIV. Immunosuppression risk is not known, but some persons with HIV have greater risk of disease with other viral respiratory tract infections.

  • Persons with low CD4 cells
  • Persons who do not undergo HIV treatment (antiretroviral treatment / ART).

Persons with HIV may have greater risk of undergoing COVID-19 more severely depending on their ages and other medical conditions.

What can persons with HIV do to be protected from COVID-19?

There is no vaccine or drug to prevent COVID-19. Persons with HIV must take daily protective measures to help prevent spread of COVID-19. They must continue to lead a healthy life.

  • Correct diet
  • Sleeping for minimum 8 hours
  • Reducing stress as much as possible

Staying healthy helps your immune system fight with infection. If you are HIV positive and take medication for HIV, you must continue your treatment and follow suggestions of your doctor. This is the best way to keep your immune system healthy.

What Should I Do If I Think I am COVID-19 Positive?

If you develop complaints compatible with COVID-19, apply to the closest health institution / your doctor / or call 184.

What else can persons with HIV who have greater risk of undergoing COVID-19 more severely do to be protected?

Almost half of persons diagnosed with HIV in the United States are over the age of 50. Persons living with HIV are more prone to some underlying health problems. Both increasing age and other diseases may increase severity of COVID-19 infection especially in persons with advanced HIV infection.

Measured that persons with HIV can take in addition to those suggested for everyone:

  • Make sure you have your HIV drug and other drugs to control HIV or medical materials to be adequate for at least 30 days.
  • Talk to your medical advisor / doctor. Make sure you have been recently vaccinated for all diseases including flu and bacterial pneumonia. Because diseases preventable by vaccines affect persons with HIV lopsidedly.
  • Make a plan for clinical care if you have to stay home for a couple of weeks. Try to make a telemedicine connection (if possible) with the person who follow and keep up with you for HIV. If telemedicine cannot be used, try to contact your provider via telephone or mail.
  • Make sure you use a social network through which you can make an online meeting, phone call or video chat. This may help you maintain your social bonds and stay mentally healthy. This is so important for persons living with HIV.
  • It is likely that persons with HIV sometimes need more help than their friends, families, neighbors, healthcare professionals and others. If you get sick, make sure you are in contact with persons that may help you via telephone or e-mail.

Can drugs (antiretrovirals) used for treatment of HIV be used to treat COVID-19?

Some drugs used for HIV (lopinavir / ritonavir in particular) are clinically researched for treatment of COVID-19. Even there is some evidence that such HIV drugs may help treat SARS and MERS (other two coronavirus diseases associated with the virus causing COVID-19) infections, there is no adequate data if they can help persons diagnosed with COVID-19. Persons living with HIV should not change their HIV treatments by themselves to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Can HIV drugs (ART) or drugs used to reduce pre-contact risk (PrEP) be sufficiently supplied?

No insufficiency for drugs used to treat HIV is reported.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a close watch on supply chain of drugs since COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to break supply chain medical and pharmaceutical products in the USA.

*Text content was taken from the website of CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).