An open letter from Eugene McCray, MD at the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, CDC…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HIV and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The new resource addresses concerns related to COVID-19 and HIV and highlights how people with HIV can protect their health.
COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that can spread from person to person. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While most people have mild symptoms, some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. People at higher risk include older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.
In the United States, nearly half of people with diagnosed HIV are aged 50 and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of chronic heart and lung disease. Like other respiratory infections among people with HIV, the risk of getting very sick is greatest in people with a low CD4 cell count and people not on HIV treatment. Encouraging people with HIV to stay on treatment and take preventative actions will play an essential role in protecting the health and well-being of those who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
People who are taking medicine to treat (ART) or prevent (PrEP) HIV should stick to their treatment plan, continue taking their medicine consistently, and follow the advice of their health care provider. Some types of HIV medications are being evaluated in clinical trials to treat COVID-19, but there are no data available yet showing that these drugs treat COVID-19. People who develop symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 should talk to their health care provider about how to get evaluated. Please visit the COVID-19 website to learn more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Furthermore, some of CDC’s recommendations to help people with HIV protect themselves from COVID-19 include:
- Having at least a 30-day supply of HIV medicine available.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Practicing good hand washing.
- Avoiding large crowds and gatherings.
- Avoiding non-essential travel.
- Following recommendations made by local public health officials.
- Establishing a clinical care plan to communicate with health care providers online or by phone.
We encourage you to review the FAQs and share these resources with your colleagues, friends, and family.
While we remain committed to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States, the response to COVID-19 has been a top priority for many people across the world. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to supporting this vital response. Together, we can make sure our families, friends, and communities have the information and resources they need to stay healthy and protect themselves from COVID-19.
Eugene McCray, MD
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention