Managing HIV Through the COVID Pandemic

March 3, 2022

 

Being HIV positive and immunocompromised presents daily challenges to your health and, as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions loosen, it can be an overwhelming to figure out how to protect yourself from infection.

 

Check out these tips from ACCESS Infectious Disease provider Ellen Seymour, N.P., M.S.N., M.P.H., on how to stay healthy:

 

Keep up with your antiretroviral therapy (ART) and continue going to your routine appointments.
  • Your immune system’s best defense against infection is your antiretroviral therapy.
  • ACCESS offers virtual and in-person visits. Depending on the nature of your visit, you can stay connected with your provider without needing to come into the health center.

 

Get vaccinated. According to the CDC, people who have HIV (including an AIDS diagnosis) should get three primary doses and a booster.
  • The additional shot is intended to improve a person’s immune response to their two-dose COVID-19 vaccine primary series.
  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines interfere with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV or with antiretroviral therapy to treat HIV.
  • COVID-19 vaccines can be safely and effectively administered with other vaccines (i.e., flu shots).
  • COVID-19 vaccines do not cause you to become infected with COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus and cannot make anyone sick with COVID-19.
  • Everyone, including people with HIV, should get a booster shotwhen they are eligible. 

 

Share any health concerns with your doctor including if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19, or if you have been exposed to someone who tested positive.
  • Follow proper COVID-19 precautions:
    • Wear a mask. On February 28th, Illinois’ mask mandate was lifted for most public places. Immunocompromised patients may choose to continue to wear a mask as an added layer of protection against COVID-19.
    • Maintain social distancing.
    • Practice frequent handwashing.
    • Get tested regularly if you fear exposure with someone with COVID-19, you are visiting individuals from outside your home and/or have COVID-19 symptoms.

 

According to Seymour, “Thanks to modern treatments, immunocompromised patients can lead long, happy and healthy lives. While the COVID-19 pandemic does present health risks, by working together with your health care provider to keep up with your treatment and getting vaccinated and boosted, is your best chance of success.”

 

For more information about how ACCESS can support you or to schedule an appointment with ACCESS, call 1.866.267.2353.