COVID-19 is a serious disease, so all people should take the recommended preventive measures to prevent infection with the virus. Vaccination and how safe the vaccine is for people living with HIV are now being hotly debated. Due to the specifics of ARV therapy and the peculiarities of the immune system, PLHIV raises many questions about the health safety of the vaccines used. Lyudmyla Kolomiychuk, a consultant with the Tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS Hotline and an infectious disease doctor, told how to properly prepare for vaccination and why it is important to continue taking ART.
Who is more vulnerable to COVID-19?
Older people living with HIV, or people living with HIV with heart and lung problems, may be at higher risk of contracting the virus and have more severe symptoms. All people living with HIV should see their doctors to stock up on basic medicines.
Does vaccination against COVID-19 provide benefits for people living with HIV?
For people living with HIV, the COVID-19 vaccine has the same benefits as everyone else: it prevents a serious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and potentially prevents the spread of the virus. However, as long as its prevalence among the population does not fall to a very low level, it is recommended to follow preventive measures (social distance, frequent hand washing, wearing masks) even after vaccination.
Should people living with HIV be vaccinated against COVID-19?
You need to be vaccinated, because COVID-19 is a dangerous infectious disease that has many complications during the course of the disease and after recovery.
It is important to test for COVID-19 antibody titers before vaccination if a person has relapsed to COVID-19 (especially if asymptomatic). And if this titer is high, especially for the titer of antibodies to IgG, it is better to postpone vaccination.
It is also important to remember that if a person's CD4 level is less than 200 cells, immunity is much worse, plus in severe immunodeficiency, when a person has a number of opportunistic diseases and it is in the process of treatment, of course, vaccination can not be . Theoretically, vaccination against COVID-19 is possible with low levels of diabetes (more than 200 cells) in the absence of opportunistic diseases, just the probability that the immune system will be much lower.
Why should PLHIV continue to receive ART?
Taking ART for people living with HIV is very important, because first of all it is a highly effective treatment that can significantly improve the health of people living with HIV and inhibit the reproduction of HIV in the body. ART helps maintain immunity and significantly reduces the risk of opportunistic infections. Proper ART intake is especially important in the COVID-19 pandemic, because the higher the level of CD4 cells (which is achieved through proper ART intake) in humans, the better the immune response to other diseases.