COVID More Lethal for People Living With HIV

By Cara Murez
HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY May 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Like some health conditions including cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, new research shows HIV or AIDS increases your risk of catching and dying of COVID-19.

For the study, researchers at Penn State College of Medicine evaluated data from 22 previous studies involving 21 million participants in North America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

Investigators found that people living with HIV had a 24% higher risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and a 78% higher risk of death from COVID than people without HIV.

“Previous studies were not conclusive that HIV is a risk factor for susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and poor outcome in populations with COVID-19,” said the Principal Investigator, Dr. Paddy Ssentongo, Assistant Professor at Penn State’s Center for Neural Engineering.

“This is because a large majority of people living with HIV / AIDS are on ART [antiretroviral therapy], some of which have been used experimentally to treat COVID-19, ”he explained in a press release from Penn State.


About 38 million people worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS, according to the World Health Organization. Certain pre-existing conditions are common in people living with HIV / AIDS, which can contribute to the severity of their cases of COVID-19.

Among people with HIV, the most common pre-existing health conditions were high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic kidney disease.

About 66% of study participants were men, with a median age of 56. Most people with HIV / AIDS (96%) were on antiretroviral therapy, which suppresses the amount of HIV detected in the body.

The beneficial effects of antiviral drugs (such as protease inhibitors) in reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and death from COVID-19 in people living with HIV / AIDS remain inconclusive, have noted the study authors.

Researcher Vernon Chinchilli, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State, said: “As the pandemic has progressed, we have gained enough information to characterize the epidemiology of HIV / SARS co-infection. -CoV-2, which could not be done. at the start of the pandemic due to scarcity of data. Our findings support current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize people living with HIV to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. “


The results were recently published in the journal Scientific reports.

More information

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on COVID-19.

SOURCE: Penn State Health, press release, May 11, 2021

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