COVID-19 vaccination is actively carried out in the world, including among people living with HIV. Infectious Diseases Practitioner Lyudmyla Kolomiychuk provided answers to popular questions about COVID-19 vaccination for PLHIV.
Should people living with HIV be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Vaccination is important and necessary for everyone and the presence of HIV infection in this case is not a contraindication to vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines bring the same benefits to people living with HIV as to all people without HIV, such as: prevention of severe COVID-19 and the potential for reduced transmission. Vaccination is contraindicated only if there is a high probability of acute allergic reactions.
What do people living with HIV need to know before being vaccinated against COVID-19?
The likelihood of a proper immune response to COVID-19 in people living with HIV depends on the level of their CD-4 cells and viral load. For people living with HIV who have less than 200 CD-4 cells, the likelihood of a proper immune response may be much lower and I, as a doctor, would recommend vaccination with a "non-live" / inactivated vaccine (eg: CoronaVac manufactured by Sinovac Biotech Ltd). However, it should be noted that low CD-4 cell counts are not a contraindication to vaccination.
Which vaccine is better to choose?
The vaccine that is available should be vaccinated. We cannot recommend a single vaccine, as all currently available vaccines in Ukraine have undergone appropriate clinical trials and are safe for the general population. There were no specific adverse reactions to vaccination with any vaccine available in Ukraine among people living with HIV.
Do antiretroviral drugs interact with vaccines?
To date, there is no evidence that antiretroviral drugs increase or worsen the response to the vaccine.
What do people living with HIV need to have in their home medicine cabinet if they have acute side effects from the COVID-19 vaccination?
The effects of vaccines on people living with HIV are still being studied. Adverse reactions after vaccination in people living with HIV do not differ from the general population and in particular may be as follows:
- pain and swelling at the injection site;
- general fatigue and headache;
- fever or chills.
Usually all these side effects do not last longer than a few days. I recommend my patients to have the following remedies in their home medicine cabinet:
- At high temperature: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (For example: Nimesil, Ibuprofen, etc.).
- Drink plenty of water.
- Keep Aspirin Cardio with you to prevent disseminated intravascular coagulation syndrome.
- In case of minor allergic reactions use Suprastin.
Be sure to discuss all of the above medications and recommendations with your doctor and do not self-medicate!