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Should HIV-positive people fear COVID-19 more than others? Disproving myths

According to experts, if you are not in a certain age group (around 70 years of age) nor have ongoing health problems, you are not in danger in case of contracting COVID-19. How about HIV+ people? There are various messages roaming the internet, as there always are, not all true. That’s why we have decided to do our own research from reliable sources and to answer some basic questions concerning HIV+ people in the current situation.

 

Are HIV+ people in more than danger than others?

According to currently available data, HIV+ people are NOT in more danger than others. HIV+ people are predisposed to catch COVID-19 as are HIV- people. “There is no known information that would suggest a more frequent or different course of COVID-19 infection in people living with HIV compared to HIV- people,” the Czech AIDS Help Society (ČSAP) says on its hiv-komunita.cz website. “The more serious course of the disease is associated with older age, male sex, and with some chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes,” they add.

Even though it is a well-known fact that AIDS weakens the immune system, HIV+ people who undergo regular medical checkups and use antiretrovirals don’t have a higher chance of catching COVID-19. In case of infection, HIV does not affect the course of this disease.

  

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Is it true that antiretrovirals can protect HIV+ people from COVID-19?

You might have come across information that people treated with antiretrovirals are immune to COVID-19. Even though it would be nice, this information is not confirmed. Research was done on 199 people with severe cases of COVID-19. The healing effect of antiretrovirals was not confirmed. “There is no reason to believe that pre-exposure prophylaxis and antiretroviral use may protect you against COVID-19,” says ČSAP on hiv-komunita.cz.

 

Is it possible that we might run out of antiretrovirals because of their use in treating COVID-19?

As the Czech AIDS Help Society says on its Facebook page, supply failure is not a possibility: HIV antiretrovirals are and will be available in the upcoming months in the Czech Republic. Under no circumstances should people stop using prescribed treatment and medicine. 

 

How does safe sex look during the pandemic?

Even though COVID-19 isn’t an STD, there is a possibility you might get infected during intercourse. The most dangerous activity is kissing, says Ludmila Hamplová from “Zdravotnický deník” and adds: “That doesn’t mean we should avoid sex at all costs. Sex could, in these hard times, be a good way to deal with stress cause by limited activities and fear of the pandemic.”

Sex with a partner with whom you spend most of your time is considered safe. Other people without a stable partner may find different ways such as sexting, video calls, etc. The most important thing is to follow the rule of 6ft/2m.

 

Can you get tested for HIV or has testing stopped momentarily?

This question has a different answer in each city. For example, in Ústí and Labem tests were not stopped. You can also get tested in the House of Light in Prague, Olomouc, Teplice, Ústí, Orlicí or České Budějovice with an appointment. Other CheckPoints are closed. Only cases with an appointment and urgent cases are treated. During these times, it is important to think about whether it would be possible to postpone the appointment until after the lockdown is over. You can find information about the current situation and testing here.

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