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COVID-19: What People with HIV Should Know

From www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

Although the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 for people with HIV is not known, people with HIV may have concerns and questions related to their risk.

This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available.

ARE PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV AT HIGHER RISK OF CONTRACTING COVID-19?

 

At the present time, we have no specific information about the risk of COVID-19 in people with HIV.

 

The risk from immune suppression is not known, but with other viral respiratory infections, the risk for people with HIV getting very sick is greatest in:

  • People with a low CD4 cell count, and

  • People not on HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy or ART).

 

People with HIV can also be at increased risk of getting very sick with COVID-19 based on their age and other medical conditions.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE WITH HIV DO TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM COVID-19?

 

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid exposure to the virus.  People with HIV should take everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  People with HIV should also continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes:

 

Staying healthy helps your immune system fight off infection should it occur.

 

If you have HIV and are taking your HIV medicine, it is important to continue your treatment and follow the advice of your health care provider. This is the best way to keep your immune system healthy.

WHAT ELSE CAN PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM COVID-19?

 

Nearly half of people in the United States with diagnosed HIV are aged 50 years and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of certain underlying health conditions. Both increased age and these conditions can increase their risk for more severe illness if people with HIV get COVID-19, especially people with advanced HIV.

 

Steps that people with HIV can take to prepare in addition to what is recommended for everybody:

  • Make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your HIV medicine and any other medications or medical supplies you need for managing HIV.

  • Talk to your health care provider and make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date, including vaccinations against seasonal influenza and bacterial pneumonia because these vaccine preventable diseases disproportionally affect people with HIV.

  • Establish a plan for clinical care if you have to stay at home for a couple of weeks. Try to establish a telemedicine link through your HIV care provider’s online portal. If telemedicine is not available to you, make sure you can communicate with your provider by phone or text.

  • Make sure you can maintain a social network remotely, such as online, by phone, or by video chat. This can help you stay socially connected and mentally healthy, which is especially important for people with HIV.

  • People with HIV can sometimes be more likely than others to need extra help, from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, and others. If you become sick make sure you stay in touch by phone or email with people who can help you.

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