Pair of hands holding HIV ribbon

If you are HIV+ (HIV-positive) and worry about the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the limited data so far indicates that coronavirus is no different in people who have well-controlled HIV than in others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers poorly-controlled HIV or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) an underlying condition that increases the risk for a more severe case of COVID-19.

HIV Coronavirus Risk

Some people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have other conditions or illnesses, such as heart disease, that increase the chance of getting life-threateningly sick with coronavirus. Smoking also increases your risk of more severe disease.

Until more is known, extra caution is recommended for all people living with HIV, especially those with advanced or poorly-controlled HIV.

Follow recommendations to prevent COVID-19, such as social distancing and hand washing. Learn the symptoms of coronavirus.

Also be sure to keep influenza (flu) and pneumonia vaccinations up to date.

HIV Treatment and Coronavirus

Keep on hand at least a 30-day supply—and ideally a 90-day supply—of antiretroviral (ARV) medications. And talk to your pharmacist and health care provider about changing to home delivery of medications, if possible, because staying home reduces your risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Medication Research

To date, there is no medication to treat COVID-19. Many drugs, including some ARV medications, are being evaluated in clinical trials for coronavirus treatment and prevention. People with HIV should not switch their ARV regimens or add ARV medications to their regimens to try and prevent or treat COVID-19.

If you're planning a regimen switch, discuss with your doctor delaying the switch until you can have close follow-up and monitoring.

We encourage people living with HIV to partner with their health care providers to talk about whether or not to attend HIV-related clinic appointments. Telemedicine (telephone or online visits) for routine or non-urgent care and counseling may replace in-person visits.

It's always a good idea to stay in touch with your doctor. Contact your doctor by phone or use MyPortfolio to send a secure message. Many healthcare professionals at University of Maryland Medical System are seeing patients via telemedicine.

Everyone should be doing their best to avoid COVID-19, but HIV+ coronavirus patients still have good prospects.

Thanks to our HIV Expert:

Sarah Schmalzle, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of the THRIVE Program at the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The THRIVE Program is located on the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.