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. Currently, there isn’t enough research to know if COVID-19 affects people living with HIV differently than people who are not living with HIV.
However, people living with HIV who have other conditions, such as heart or lung disease, may be at a higher risk of developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms. People living with HIV who are also chronic smokers may be at higher risk as well.
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.