Many of the COVID-19 vaccine studies have included a little number of individuals living with HIV in their trials. Despite limited data, available information suggests that most vaccines are safe for people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The current available vaccine products aren’t live vaccines, they include genetic material from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which cannot replicate. Therefore, these vaccines aren’t expected to be less safe in people that are immunocompromised. In addition to the present, no pharmacological interactions are reported between COVID-19 vaccines and antiretroviral medications which individuals living with HIV should still take after vaccination to take care of health.
It is theoretically possible that people living with HIV with low CD4 cell counts might have a weaker immune response to vaccines. However, in practice this has not been documented for all vaccines and there’s no evidence to support a less robust immune reaction to COVID-19 vaccines among people living with HIV and low CD4 cell counts. World Health Organization is reviewing new evidence because it emerges and can provide updates.
More importantly, advocacy is required in order that no person is left behind which national COVID-19 vaccination programs don’t exclude people from key and vulnerable populations, at risk of HIV, who may have limited access to health services. It is also important to advocate for the inclusion of individuals living with HIV, including those with more advanced disease, in COVID-19 vaccine trials to supply information to verify efficacy.
Therefore, all people living with HIV should be prioritized for early vaccination, and people living with HIV with co-morbidities (such as chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, kidney disease, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, motor-neuron disease) should be prioritized for early vaccination and management of their co-morbidities.
People living with HIV shouldn’t be excluded from COVID-19 vaccine access plans no matter their immune status, and countries should include people living with HIV as a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination consistent with their epidemiological context.
How to Support People Living With HIV and Aids?
Supporting people living with HIV to continue taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) and adapting services to form this easier and more efficient during the COVID-19 response.
Continuing to supply HIV prevention and testing services with linkage to ART initiation as a priority.
Ensuring those that start ART can remain thereon to scale back health risks and complications during COVID-19, including maintaining viral load suppression. This must be classified as an important service, along side prevention, diagnosis and treatment of co-morbidities and co-infections.
Monitoring all people living with HIV and SARS-CoV-2 infections, especially those with advanced HIV disease or with co-morbidities.
Although there could also be a rise within the risk of developing severe disease from COVID-19 among people living with HIV, ensuring that folks have access to effective ART and other health care they have will help to attenuate this risk.