Coronavirus Concerns for People Living with HIV

  • March 13, 2020

Coronavirus Concerns for People Living with HIV

FROM:   Cyril Ubiem, PhD, VP of Programs & Services at WSHC

Our greatest concern at the moment is making sure that people living with HIV take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.  For more in-depth information please visit this article from POZ magazine, “What People With HIV Need to Know About the New Coronavirus.”

What About People With HIV?

People with compromised immunity are at higher risk of contracting the new coronavirus and developing more serious COVID-19 illness. The HIV population is aging, and nearly half are over 50. Those with low CD4 T-cell counts, indicating advanced immune suppression, are at greatest risk. People with HIV are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and may do so at a younger age.  Certain HIV medications, especially older drugs, can cause neutropenia, or depletion of immune system white blood cells that fight infection.  Among people living with HIV who have a reconstituted immune system because of treatment, experts believe the risk is not going to be tremendously different.


·         “Avoid close contact—meaning within about six feet—with people who have a cough or other respiratory symptoms.

·         Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often for at least 20 seconds.

·         Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.

·         Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

·         Healthy people do not need to routinely wear face masks to prevent infection, but use a mask if you are caring for someone who is ill.

·         Get the flu vaccine. Older people should also consider getting vaccinated against pneumonia.

**If you are ill**:

·         Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your bent elbow, and immediately dispose of tissues in the trash.

·         Avoid close contact with others.

·         Stay home if you are sick.

·         If you think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, contact a health care provider promptly if you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

·         Before you go to a clinic or hospital, call ahead so the staff can take appropriate precautions.

·         Wearing a face mask can stop the spread of droplets that can transmit the virus to others.”