The COVID-19 virus poses an imminent danger for people with HIV. The risk of acquiring severe COVID-19 illness is at its highest as they are immunocompromised. Individuals with HIV conditions must practice strict health protocols. It is also crucial that they will be given priority for anti-COVID vaccination.
Here are some of the critical things that people living with HIV must know about COVID vaccines:
- Individuals living with HIV belong to the Ontario Phase 2 priority group. They are also eligible based on their age and where they live.
- Here are the ways to know your eligibility for a vaccine:
- Log in to the Ontario vaccine website and enter your postal code and find out your options
- Sign up for updates on all or any of the following social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, and Discord
- Text your postal code to 1-833-356-1683 to get your designated vaccination site
- Any available vaccines are approved for use in Canada. Therefore, you may get any of these vaccines. They are effective in preventing severe COVID-19 disease.
- Your antiretrovirals will not affect the COVID-19 virus and vice versa. No evidence was seen that the antiretrovirals would interact negatively with the vaccines.
- There is a high possibility that the vaccine will work better for those with higher CD-4 cells and suppressed viral loads.
- Even if you are vaccinated, continue to practice public health recommendations such as wearing a face mask and practicing physical distance for your maximum safety and protection. It is also important not to stop your HIV therapy and keep your viral load suppressed.
Clinical trials are still ongoing to find a cure for COVID-19 infection; some of these trials are coming from HIV doctors and research staff. While clinical trials continue, there are identified and approved COVID-19 treatments and medications such as Remdesivir or Dexamethasone.
There are not enough reasons for patients living with HIV to switch from their standard antiretroviral therapy. Switching could be met with adverse outcomes, which can be new side effects or loss of viral control.