People with HIV at highest risk of death if diagnosed with COVID

In a new study, researchers have found that individuals living with HIV and AIDS have an increased risk of death from COVID-19 infection

Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine analyzed data from 22 previous studies that included nearly 21 million participants in North America, Africa, Europe and Asia to determine how susceptible people living with HIV/AIDS are to COVID-19 infection and death.

They found that people living with HIV had a 24% higher risk of infection and a 78% higher risk of death from COVID-19 than people without HV.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART)

96% of the patients were on antiretroviral therapy (ART), which helps suppress the amount of HIV detected in the body.

Dr. Paddy Ssentongo, lead researcher and assistant professor at the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering, said: “Previous studies were inconclusive on whether or not HIV is a risk factor for susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and poor outcomes in populations with COVID-19. This is because a vast majority of people living with HIV/AIDS are on ART, some of which have been used experimentally to treat COVID-19.”

Vernon Chinchilli, fellow researcher and chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences, added: “As the pandemic has evolved, we’ve obtained sufficient information to characterise the epidemiology of HIV/SARS-CoV-2 coinfection, which could not be done at the beginning of the pandemic due to scarcity of data. Our findings support the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to prioritise persons living with HIV to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in Scientific Reports.