HIV and COVID-19
- COVID-19 is caused by a virus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and can be spread from person to person. Anyone can get infected with SARS-CoV-2, but people with HIV who also have an underlying condition or a comorbidity are more likely to get severely sick if they become infected with SARS-CoV-2.
- Testing is the only way to know that someone has been infected with SARS-CoV-2. People with HIV should immediately contact their health care provider if they test positive for COVID-19. People with HIV should also continue taking their HIV medicines as prescribed.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people with HIV who are eligible should get a COVID-19 vaccine regardless of viral load or CD4 T lymphocyte cell count. Vaccination schedules depend on age and vaccine manufacturer.
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with HIV. According to CDC, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines interfere with medicines to treat or prevent HIV. However, people with advanced HIV (including an AIDS diagnosis) or who have HIV and are not on HIV treatment should follow CDC’s vaccination recommendations for people who are immunocompromised.
- People with HIV should follow the general CDC protocol on how to protect yourself and others from infection with COVID-19. Getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can also protect people with HIV.
- People who have both HIV and COVID-19 should be treated for both; however, the type and duration of treatment for COVID-19 depend on a person’s individual circumstances. Health care providers prescribe HIV and COVID-19 medicines carefully to avoid drug-drug interactions and closely monitor those taking the medicines for any side effects.
COVID-19 is caused by a virus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and can be spread from person to person. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 primarily occurs when a person inhales respiratory droplets or particles that contain the virus or when a person touches their mucous membranes with hands that have been contaminated with the virus.
Anyone can get infected with SARS-CoV-2 and become severely sick or die from COVID-19. However, people with underlying medical conditions or those who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system are more likely to get very sick, be hospitalized, need intensive care, require a ventilator to breathe, or die from COVID-19. People with HIV have higher rates of certain underlying medical conditions. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) weakens the immune system and can cause a person to be immunocompromised.
People with HIV, especially those with advanced HIV or untreated HIV, may have an underlying condition or a comorbidity that can make them severely sick if they become infected with SARS-CoV-2.
You should follow CDC recommendations regarding symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested immediately if you think you may be infected with SARS-CoV-2. A person can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 but show only a few symptoms or no symptoms at all (also known as asymptomatic infection). Testing is the only way to know that someone has been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Testing also ensures that people are not spreading the virus to others.
Most health care providers offer COVID-19 testing. Contact your health care provider if you are experiencing COVID-19–related symptoms or have come in contact with an infected person. People can also get tested for COVID-19 at their local pharmacies by making scheduled appointments or drive throughs or by purchasing at-home rapid tests over the counter at local pharmacies. Residential households in the United States can now order free at-home testing kits from the U.S. Postal Service. Visit the CDC website for more information about self-testing and free at-home COVID-19 tests, and visit your state or local health department’s website for information on additional testing sites.
Important: If you have HIV you should immediately contact their health care provider if you test positive for COVID-19, and you should also continue taking your HIV medicines (also known as antiretroviral drugs) as prescribed.
There are several COVID-19 vaccines that are Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved or authorized for emergency use in the United States. CDC recommends that people with HIV who are eligible should get COVID-19 vaccines regardless of viral load or CD4 T lymphocyte cell count. Vaccination schedules depend on age and vaccine manufacturer. See the CDC’s Interim COVID-19 Immunization Schedule (PDF), or the (easier to understand) infographics COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations Infographic (PDF) for most people, or COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations Infographic (Immunocompromised) (PDF).
CDC also recommends that people with advanced or untreated HIV get an additional primary dose to boost their immune response. An additional primary dose is the dose given after a person receives the initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have HIV, you should talk to your health care provider about getting additional doses of updated COVID-19 vaccines.
People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can still get infected with SARS-CoV-2 but getting vaccinated decreases the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with HIV. People with HIV were included in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. COVID-19 vaccines meet the FDA’s standards of safety, effectiveness, and quality. According to CDC, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines interfere with medicines to treat or prevent HIV. HIV medicines that prevent HIV are called pre-exposure prophylaxis.
There are drugs that are FDA-approved or authorized for the treatment of COVID-19. Some of these approved drugs have drug-drug interactions with certain HIV medicines. If you take HIV medicines, you should talk to your health care provider about potential drug-drug interactions taking COVID-19 treatment. To learn more about drug-drug interactions, read the What is a Drug Interaction HIVinfo fact sheet.
If you have HIV, you should follow the general CDC protocols on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can protect you and others from COVID-19. People with HIV can also protect themselves from COVID-19 by—
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Continuing to take antiretroviral drugs to strengthen the immune system.
- Ensuring that all vaccinations, including vaccination against the flu, are up to date.
- Maintaining adequate supply of antiretroviral drugs (at least 30 days’ supply) and other drugs needed to manage HIV; you can talk to your health care provider about getting your HIV medicine by mail.
- Keeping all medical appointments and observing safety protocols during in-person medical visits; people with HIV should use telemedicine when possible.
- HIV and COVID-19 Basics
- Self-Testing at Home or Anywhere
- How to Protect Yourself and Others
- COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised
From National Institutes of Health:
- Guidance for COVID-19 and People with HIV
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelines
- COVID-19 Testing
Also see the HIV Source collection of HIV links and resources.