People living with HIV may have concerns and questions about COVID-19, including the risk of serious illness and vaccine safety. Open Paths Athens will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.
1. Are people with HIV at higher risk for serious illness from COVID -19 than others?
• People with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) are not at high risk for coronavirus infection or severe symptoms.
· People with HIV who are not being treated or have not had their viral load suppressed may be at higher risk.
• Older people with HIV and those with underlying diseases should strictly follow the precautionary measures to prevent coronavirus infection, which is also true in the general population.
2. Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection more serious among people with HIV infection?
No. To date, there is no evidence that HIV-positive individuals receiving effective treatment are at a higher risk of infection with the new coronavirus. In addition, it has not been shown that these individuals are more likely to develop more severe symptoms if their disease is treated satisfactorily.
3. Are COVID vaccines safe for people living with HIV/AIDS?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people living with HIV. COVID-19 vaccines meet the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. People with HIV were included in vaccine clinical trials. For more information on the safety reporting systems, please read the COVID-19 Vaccine Reporting Systems | CDC.
4. Will COVID -19 vaccine interfere with medicine to prevent or treat HIV?
There is no evidence that COVID -19 vaccines interfere with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) to prevent HIV or antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV.
5. What can people with HIV do to protect themselves from COVID -19?
People with HIV can protect themselves by following EODY's COVID prevention recommendations.
If you have HIV and are taking your HIV medicine as prescribed, it is important to continue your treatment and follow your health care provider's advice. This is the best way to keep your immune system healthy. People with HIV should also continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle
· Ensure you have at least a 30-day (or longer) supply of your HIV medicine and any other medicines or medical supplies you need for managing HIV (ideally two months).
· Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date, including vaccinations against seasonal influenza (flu) and bacterial pneumonia. These vaccine-preventable diseases affect people with HIV more than others.
· When possible, keep your medical appointments. Ensure you know how to contact the Infection Unit or Outpatient Clinic where you are being monitored.
· If you become sick, make sure you stay in touch by phone or email with people who can help you.
6. What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19?
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19.
It is important to continue taking your HIV medicine as prescribed. This will help keep your immune system healthy.
7. Should people with HIV travel at this time?
Everyone, including people with HIV, should follow EODY's COVID-19 travel recommendations.
8. How can I take care of my mental health during the pandemic period?
Maintain frequent contact and communication with friends and family through phone calls, emails, video calls
Avoid overexposing yourself to information that might upset you. Your information should be based on valid/reliable sources such as:
o ΕΟDY's Website: https://eody.gov.gr/neos-koronaios-covid-19/
o EEL's Website: https://www.loimoxeis.gr/covid-19-info-banner/
o ΕΕΜΑΑ's Website: https://www.aids.org.gr/
o WHO’s Website: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
o CDC's Website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus
o ECDC's Website: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19-pandemic
o DHHS's Revised Guidelines: Interim Guidancefor COVID-19 and Persons with HIV