5 things people living with HIV should know about Coronavirus

We know you’ve heard all the media-hype surrounding the coronavirus, also known as COVID19, as it continues to spread in the United States and around the world. And although older folks, and those with health conditions or compromised immune systems are most at risk from this disease, everyone should be cautious.

If you’re someone living with HIV, we certainly don’t want to scare you, but we do want you to learn about some basic precautions to lower your risk of getting the virus and improve your overall well-being. Sound like a plan? Okay, let’s get right into it.

  • First off, don’t panic. Most people with Coronavirus have mild symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. BUT RIGHT NOW IT’S BEST TO STAY HOME AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.
  • Yes, HIV can cause a compromised immune system, and you’ve heard that immunocompromised people are a “risk group.” However, if you are a person living with HIV who:
    • is younger than 60
    • on meds and undetectable
    • has a normal CD4 count (above 500)
    • and has no comorbid conditions (particularly cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, high blood pressure or diabetes),

then your risk of developing serious illness if you get COVID19 is not going to be much different than any other healthy person’s risk.

  • Recommendations for preventing exposure to COVID19 are the same for people living with HIV as for everyone else:
    • Wash your hands often and to the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places. Hand sanitizer works too.
    • Steer clear of anyone showing obvious symptoms of a cold or other illness.
    • The virus is spread through droplets, which means sneezes and coughs but also speaking, so “social distancing” – or staying 6 feet away from those around you is a good idea.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth.
    • Masks are for people who are ill & for healthcare workers. You do not need to wear a mask out in public, so don’t waste your money.

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  • Don’t wait until the last minute to fill your HIV meds or other prescriptions. Just in case health officials recommend people stay home, you’ll want to make sure you always have at least 2 weeks of meds left. It’s not a bad idea to have a fever reducer, like ibuprofen, on hand as well.
  • If you are in a risk group (over 60, below normal CD4, not virally suppressed, or have one of the comorbid conditions listed in #2), the CDC suggests you avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces and avoid nonessential travel, such as long plane or bus trips.

We know, it’s a lot to take in. But we will get through this together. Keep up to date on new developments & let your healthcare provider know if you have questions or concerns, especially if you have new symptoms or were recently exposed to someone who is ill.

If you want to learn more in-depth information about coronavirus, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/

 

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