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.”

A note about Whittier and COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in our area, we ask all clients and patients to call ahead before coming to any of our sites. We are working to take care of most clients/patients via phone/video encounter so we can meet your ongoing healthcare needs. This is for your safety and so we can provide the highest quality of care to you while following CDC guidance for COVID-19. Please call 617-427-1000 for any questions or concerns.

Whittier will provide COVID-19 testing from 10 am to 4 pm on Monday to Friday. Following CDC guidance, we recommend testing if you have a fever AND one of the following three symptoms: cough OR shortness of breath OR sore throat. Please bring your picture identification and your insurance card (if you have insurance).