Those Living With HIV at Higher Risk of Infection and Mortality From COVID-19

Killian Meara

Killian Meara, assistant editor for ContagionLive, joined the MJH Life Sciences team in November 2020. He graduated from William Paterson University with a degree in liberal studies, and concentrations in history and psychology. He enjoys film, reading, and pretending he is a good cook. Follow him on Twitter @krmeara or email him at [email protected]

People living with HIV/AIDS were found to have 24% higher risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine have found that individuals living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are at a higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

Results from the study were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

"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," Paddy Ssentongo, lead researcher and assistant professor at the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering said. "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."

For the study, the investigators assessed data from 22 studies that were previously conducted and included roughly 21 million participants who lived in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

Of the participants, 66% were male with a median age of 56 years old. Comorbidities included hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease. Additionally, 96% of the participants were on antiretroviral therapy (ART).

The goal of the study was to determine how susceptible people who are living with HIV or AIDS are to an infection with SARS-CoV-2 or dying from COVID-19.

Findings from the study showed that those living with HIV had a 24% higher risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, as well as a 78% higher risk of death from COVID-19. The investigators believe that this is because pre-existing conditions are common among those living with HIV and AIDS.

"As the pandemic has evolved, we've obtained sufficient information to characterize the epidemiology of HIV/SARS-CoV-2 coinfection, which could not be done at the beginning of the pandemic due to scarcity of data," Vernon Chinchilli, a co-author on the study said. "Our findings support the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to prioritize persons living with HIV to receive a COVID-19 vaccine."