People with HIV face additional health uncertainties because of COVID-19. But, with appropriate guidance on HIV and COVID-19, you shouldn’t worry.
In 2020, COVID-19 emerged as a key public health threat for everyone. But for people with HIV, the pandemic has caused particular concerns about potential COVID-19-related health risks.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is addressing those concerns, in part, through the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) initiative, which aims to reduce new HIV cases by at least 90% by 2030. EHE supports access to HIV treatment, which helps people with HIV stay healthy and prevents new transmissions.
How to reduce your risk
We know that having HIV doesn’t increase your risk of getting COVID-19 if you are getting effective HIV treatment. But if you do contract COVID-19, your risk of serious illness and death may increase depending on your age, weight, and whether you have other chronic illnesses. You can take steps to reduce those risks:
- Stay in HIV treatment — or begin treatment if you haven’t started — with in-person or telehealth appointments.
- Follow social distancing recommendations and wear a mask in public.
- Keep a supply of HIV medications and take them as prescribed to keep the HIV level in your body low. This strengthens your immune system and lowers the risk that you’ll get sick with other illnesses. (To reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure, most pharmacies will mail medications to your home.)
- Protect your mental health/wellbeing by connecting with friends and family — either virtually or in person (with masks and physical distancing). You can also talk with your medical provider about mental health referrals and services. In addition, supportive faith communities may offer counseling by phone or virtual chat.
- Get a flu shot and any other vaccinations you need. Check with your provider to see which ones are required or recommended.
To learn more about HIV and COVID-19, or to find a medical provider, visit HIV.gov.