COVID-19 and HIV - What We Know1
- The risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 might be higher for people living with untreated HIV or who have a low CD4 cell
- People living with an uncontrolled or a detectable HIV viral load should speak with their physician to determine what can be done to better manage their infection
- People living with HIV or Hepatitis C are at a greater risk of having other health conditions than contracting COVID-19.
- The risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 is not expected to be higher for people living with HIV who have a fully suppressive treatment regimen.
- Faced with a severe pandemic like COVID-19, it is vital for all people living with HIV to follow all the recommended preventive measures and minimize their exposure to the virus. By doing so, it is possible to prevent being infected by COVID-19.
- Social distancing will keep you safe, stay at home as much as you can! You can always be virtually connected with family members and friends!
- Keep your influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations up to date.
Who is at a higher risk?2
The risk of infection by COVID-19 might be higher for older people living with HIV and those who suffer from heart and lung problems, other chronic respiratory conditions, diabetes and kidney disease.
COVID-19 and ARV – What to do?3
- It is essential for people living with HIV to ensure sufficient medical supply (antiretroviral (ARV) drugs and other medications) for at least 30 days.
- It is even possible, at some locations, to have the medication delivered by mail, instead of by your pharmacist or health care provider.
- People living with HIV, for whom a regimen switch is planned, should consider delaying the switch until close follow-up and monitoring are possible. Consult your health care provider for more details.
COVID-19, HIV and Protease Inhibitors4
People living with HIV, who are infected with COVID-19 or who wish to prevent such occurrence, should consult their health care provider before changing their regimen to include Protease Inhibitors (PIs). PIs are being used as an off-label treatment for patients infected by COVID-19 as part of clinical trials.
COVID-19, HIV and Medical Visits5
Unless your viral load is uncontrolled or detectable, it is recommended for people living with HIV to postpone any routine medical or monitoring visits, unless urgent matters. As such, consult with your health care provider about the possibility to schedule telephone or video call counseling.
COVID-19, HIV and Hospitalization6
In case of hospitalization of a person living with HIV and infected by COVID-19, please follow these guidelines:
- ARV drug administration should not be discontinued. If the medication is unavailable at the hospital, administer the drugs from the patient’s home supply.
- Substitution of ARV drug should be avoided.
- Ibalizumab intravenous infusion, administered every 2 weeks, should not be discontinued. Health care providers should arrange for uninterrupted treatment.
- Arrangements should be made, if possible, to continue the administration of investigational ARV medication.
- In case tube feeding is required, some ARV medications are available in liquid formulation and some pills, not all, can be crushed.
COVID-19, HIV and Quarantine7
If you are a person living with HIV who’s in self-isolation or quarantine, here is what you should do:
- Report to your health care provider that you are self-isolating or in quarantine.
- Inform your health care provider of the ARV medications and other essential medications supply you have on hand.
- As a reminder, you should have at least a 30-day supply, and ideally a 90-day supply of ARV and/or other medications. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
COVID-19 and Preventive Measures8
Reduce your exposure to COVID-19 by taking the following precautionary measures:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or with alcohol-based handrub;
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes if you haven’t washed your hands;
- Limit contact with people outside your household;
- If contact is necessary, keep a 2-meter distance, at least, between yourself and people outside your household.
If you have fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing, immediately contact your health care provider.
What is Good Respiratory Hygiene?9
Covering your mouth and nose with either your elbow or a tissue paper while coughing or sneezing, and immediately disposing of the used tissue.
What is the Purpose of Respiratory Hygiene?10
Viruses, like flu, cold or COVID-19, are mainly spread by droplets. That’s why it is important to cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing to avoid contaminating people around you.
Why should you avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes?11
By touching different surfaces, your hands get contaminated and viruses can be transferred to your nose, mouth and eyes and enter your body.
Why should you wash your hands regularly?12
By washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, with soap or alcohol-based handrub, viruses that might be picked up are killed.
- How are people tested for COVID-19?13
When to discontinue home isolation?14
Government regulations vary from country to country and even from one local administration to the next.
It is at least recommenced, if not mandatory, that you stay at home and limit as much as you can any interaction with people outside of your household. If you have to go outside, you should keep a safe distance of at least two meters or six feet.
How long does COVID-19 survive on surfaces?15
- In the air: up to 3 hours
- On copper: up to 4 hours
- On cardboard: up to 24 hours
- On plastic: up to 2 to 3 days
- On stainless steel: up to 2 to 3 days
If you have more questions, please consult your local public health authority website or contact their helpline.