I am living with HIV, how might I forestall COVID-19? This is rising stress during COVID-19 dread.
Individuals living with HIV who have not achieved viral suppression through antiretroviral treatment may have a compromised immune system that leaves them vulnerable to opportunistic infections and further disease progression. At present, there is no evidence to suggest that there is an increased risk of infection, though this can rapidly change as the virus spreads.
The guidance for individuals living with HIV is the same as for everybody. On the off chance that you are feeling unwell – you have a persevering dry cough and a temperature – remain at home and call your wellbeing specialist. They will have the option to educate you regarding the following stages. During this time, make sure you avoid close contact with others.
Tips on COVID-19 for individuals living with HIV
- Try to stock-up on your antiretroviral treatment for at least 30 days.
- Ensure your immunisations are up to date (influenza and pneumococcal vaccines).
- Make sure you know how to get in touch with your health care facility and that you have a plan in place if you feel unwell and need to stay at home.
- Make sure you are eating well, exercising as best you can (at home), and looking after your mental health.
- If staying indoors is difficult for you, keeping in touch with people remotely, such as online, by phone or by video chat, can help you with staying socially associated and intellectually sound.
- Keep an eye on advice from WHO, Public Health Department, and your doctor.
Can antiretroviral be used to prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19?
After conducting two studies, one of the studies suggested that the occurrence of MERS-CoV infection was lower among health workers receiving LPV/r (lopinavir boosted with ritonavir) compared to those who did not receive any drugs; the other study found no cases of SARS-CoV infection among 19 PLHIV hospitalized in the same ward of SARS patients, of whom 11 were on antiretroviral therapy. Again, the certainty of the evidence is very low due to the small sample size, variability in drugs provided, and uncertainty regarding the intensity of exposure. Several randomized trials are planned to assess the safety and efficacy of using antiretroviral drugs – mainly LPV/r – for treating COVID-19, in combination with other drugs. Results are expected from mid-2020 onwards.
Currently, there is insufficient data to assess the effectiveness of LPV/r or other antivirals for treating COVID-19.
Again, as part of WHO’s response to the outbreak, the WHO R&D Blueprint  has been activated to accelerate the evaluation of diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics for this novel coronavirus. WHO has also designed a set of procedures to assess the performance, quality, and safety of medical technologies during emergency situations.
If countries use antiretroviral for COVID-19, are there concerns about treatment shortages for individuals living with HIV?
If LPV/r is to be used for the treatment of COVID-19, a plan should be in place to ensure there is adequate and continuous supply to cover the needs of all individuals already using LPV/r and those who will need to begin treatment. However, a relatively small proportion of individuals living with HIV are on regimens which include LPV/r, since it is used as a second-line regimen according to WHO’s HIV treatment guidelines. Any country that allows the use of HIV medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 must ensure that an adequate and sustainable supply is in place.
Stigma, Discrimination, and Human rights
People need to realize that the coronavirus can infect any human being, but it seems to have spread a more venomous infection into certain minds dealing with racism and stereotyping. It can put everyone at risk. Many people could counterfeit not to have the infection in view of being terrified of being named as “the one with the Coronavirus”.
We all have the responsibility to correct the misconceptions.