What HIV Positive People Need to Know About COVID-19?

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Recently discovered novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 is from a large family of viruses affecting humans and animals. This infectious disease is known as SARS-CoV-2. 

The first case of coronavirus was found in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since then, the number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 2,034,802 worldwide and 6,70,000 in the U.S. alone. 

Not everyone who is infected with COVID-19 will show symptoms such as high fever, difficulty in breathing, etc. It is possible that most people have no or mild symptoms in the beginning. 

ELISA Kits can help you diagnose the COVID-19 infection. 

Effects of COVID-19 on HIV Affected People?

You may be at a greater risk of catching coronavirus if your HIV is not virally suppressed or you are under active treatment. Your weak immune system makes you more exposed to such infection illnesses. 

People living with HIV or underlying pre-existing health conditions (such as diabetes, lung infection, heart disease) are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. 

The World Health Organization advises people to take special precautions to reduce the risk of coronavirus in people suffering from other health diseases. 

What Kind of HIV Infected People Are at Risk of COVID-19?

As HIV affects the immune system and destroys T cells or CD4 helper cells, it becomes difficult for the body to fight against many other infections. People with weak immunity should take cautionary steps to prevent COVID-19. 

It includes people with:

  • High viral load
  • Low CD4count (generally less than 200 copies per cell)
  • Any other infectious disease. 

The immune system of people with HIV may not be capable to deal with the novel coronavirus. Also, they are more exposed to respiratory diseases. Due to this, it is necessary to take your ART as prescribed by your doctor. 

Advice for People Living with HIV to Prevent Coronavirus

HIV infected people are advised to take general precautions to protect them and others from coronavirus.

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a hand sanitizer (with high alcohol content) in those situations when you are unable to use soap/water.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contacting people who are sick or feeling unwell.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Always use a clean tissue and throw it in a covered bin immediately.
  • Take your HIV medicines regularly
  • Eat balanced food to keep your immune system as strong as possible.

What to do if feeling unwell?

If you are feeling unwell and have consistent symptoms of high temperature, dry cough, and difficult breathing, stay at home, and contact your health care provider.

At this time,  self-isolation protects your family members and others in the community. 

 Do wear a face mask to stop spreading the droplets of virus that can transmit to others. If you are going to a hospital, call ahead and tell your conditions to the medical staff so that they can take all the necessary precautions.

Home Care Tips for People Living with HIV against COVID-19

Follow these essential precautions to protect yourself and others from catching the highly infectious coronavirus. Contact your doctor to ensure their services are available during this pandemic situation. 

  • Take essential antiretroviral medicines to keep your immune system healthy.
  • Stock-up your ART medicine and make sure you have at least a 30-day supply.
  • Keep your vaccinations up to date such as bacterial pneumonia, pneumococcal and influenza vaccines.
  • Ensure a plan for clinical care if you are staying at home for a couple of weeks. 
  • Follow a healthy diet and regular exercise to keep yourself physically and mentally fit.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor.

Conclusion

During this pandemic situation, governments are requesting people to stay at home and avoid any direct contact with other people. 

Keep yourself updated with the latest COVID-19 news but do not overconsume. Take advice from the WHO, the public health department, local HIV organizations, and your personal doctor. 

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