HIV and COVID-19
Nearly four decades after HIV began spreading across the globe, a new type of virus is wreaking havoc on the world. Learn what the COVID-19 pandemic means for people living with HIV.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a new kind of coronavirus.
We’re still learning about COVID-19 and how it affects people with HIV. People with HIV, especially those who have a low CD4 cell count or unsuppressed viral load, may be at higher risk for getting very sick if they get COVID-19.
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 can reduce your chances for getting sick with COVID-19 and especially for getting very sick or needing to be hospitalized. Any currently authorized COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to people with HIV. The COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective in people with HIV or whose immune systems have been weakened because of other illness or medication. For this reason, after you are vaccinated against COVID-19, you should continue to protect yourself against COVID-19 by wearing a face covering, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or learn more about getting a COVID vaccination in Massachusetts.
If you are living with HIV, here’s what you should know about COVID-19:
In some cases, telephone or virtual visits can be a safer alternative to in-person appointments.
If you have a suppressed HIV viral load and you’re feeling healthy, ask your doctor about postponing routine visits or possibly conducting them virtually. But if you’re noticing changes in your health, talk to your doctor about scheduling a visit. You should discuss the potential risks of being in public, including the state of the COVID-19 transmission in your community, as well as the status of your CD4 count and viral load.
Keep at least a 30-day supply of HIV medications and other medicines on hand.
Even better: Stock up with a 90-day supply in case you’re unable to make it to the pharmacy.
Consider getting your meds delivered.
Talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider about refill and delivery options to cut down on trips to the pharmacy and reduce face-to-face contact.
No drug has been proven to be safe or effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.
Several medications, including ones used to treat HIV, are currently being tested to learn about their effects on the new coronavirus. These clinical trials are still in the early stages and have shown no conclusive results.
Keep up to date on your influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations.
It’s especially important to prevent other respiratory infections while COVID-19 is going around.
Do you have COVID-19 but don’t need to go to the hospital?
Keep in touch with your doctor regularly, especially if your symptoms seem to be getting worse. You should continue your HIV medications and other meds as usual unless your doctor advises otherwise.
If you have COVID-19 and are in the hospital:
Make a detailed list of all the medicines you’re taking, including ones for HIV. This will help your doctor spot potential interactions with your COVID-19 treatment. You should also continue your HIV treatment without any substitutions or interruption. If the hospital doesn’t have your medications, use your own supply or talk with your doctor about the best course of action.