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COVID-19 and HIV or AIDS

Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team

Updated on


  • People with HIV or AIDS are at risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with HIV or AIDS.
  • You should continue your HIV treatment, even if you get infected with COVID-19. 

HIV and COVID-19 have been studied extensively throughout the pandemic. As HIV and AIDS compromise the immune system, you can be at risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. It’s essential to take measures to prevent falling ill with COVID-19 if you have HIV and to get tested as soon as possible if you notice that you’re experiencing symptoms of an infection with the coronavirus. 

Are people with HIV at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19?

COVID-19 may be a cause of concern for those living with HIV. HIV is the abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus, which is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. This makes it harder for your body to fight everyday infections and diseases. There’s no cure for HIV, but it can be managed with proper treatment. If left untreated, HIV may evolve into AIDS. People with AIDS have an immune system which is badly damaged because of the virus. This makes them more vulnerable to opportunistic infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi, as the immune system can’t react properly anymore. 1 2

Anyone can get infected with the coronavirus, but some groups of people have a higher risk of developing severe symptoms and complications due to the infection. People with a compromised immune system are one of those groups that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. Those who have HIV often have underlying medical conditions compared to those who do not have HIV. This is especially the case for those who are not receiving proper treatment for their HIV infection. These underlying medical conditions also increase their risk of severe symptoms. 3 4

Are COVID-19 Vaccines safe for people with HIV?

The COVID-19 vaccine and HIV have been studied extensively, with studies of the vaccine also including people with HIV. There’s no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe for those diagnosed with HIV. The available vaccines have been studied extensively and underwent intensive monitoring for safety and effectiveness. 

The CDC recommends people with HIV get the COVID-19 vaccine, as it will support your immune system in fighting off the infection. The guidelines of the CDC also recommend people with advanced HIV and people not getting treatment for their HIV to get an additional primary shot to further improve the body's immune response against COVID-19. This additional primary shot should be administered before the booster shot, which is recommended for everyone eligible, including those with HIV. For those with HIV who are virally suppressed or who do not have advanced HIV, the CDC does not recommend the additional primary shot. 3 4

Vaccination and booster shots are also recommended for those with HIV who have undetectable HIV, a low viral load, or a low CD4 T-lymphocyte cell count. Those vaccinated against COVID-19 can still get infected with the virus, but the risk of getting severely ill, needing hospitalization, and the possibility of death decreases significantly. 3

How can people with HIV protect themselves from COVID-19?

People with HIV or AIDS can protect themselves against COVID-19 by following the same measures as others, being: 5

  • Improving ventilation in indoor spaces.
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick or who have symptoms
  • Wearing a mask that fits well, covering both nose and mouth. Masks can set a barrier for the particles you breathe, cough, or sneeze out. The N95 masks provide higher protection as they fit closely on the face and filter out particles, including the coronavirus.
  • Keeping a safe distance from others.
  • Vaccinating and keeping vaccination up-to-date with the recommended booster shots. 
  • Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly with water and soap.
  • Avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.

If you have HIV, you can protect yourself from COVID-19 by following your usual treatment and attending your scheduled medical appointments. This will keep your HIV under control and ensure your immune system stays healthy. It’s crucial to have a supply of your HIV medicine for at least 30 days so that you can always continue treatment. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help you support your immune system. You can also ensure that all your vaccinations are up to date. This includes vaccination against COVID-19, but also vaccination against seasonal flu and bacterial pneumonia. 4

What should I do if I have HIV and think I might have COVID-19?

If you have HIV and you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, then you should get tested as soon as possible. This can be done through a PCR test or an antigen test. Both require a swab from the back of the throat or the nose, which can then be analyzed. Getting tested for COVID-19 is the only way to know whether or not you’ve been infected with the coronavirus. Testing ensures that you can get the proper treatment and not spread the virus to others. 6 3

Suppose you've tested positive for COVID-19 and you have HIV or AIDS. In that case, contacting your health provider as soon as possible is essential, as you may be eligible for antiviral medication to support your immune system. In the meanwhile, it's crucial to continue your HIV treatment. 3

COVID-19 treatments: do they interact with medicine to treat or prevent HIV?

Some COVID-19 treatments may interact with antiretroviral therapy used to treat HIV. However, there are no known connections between COVID-19 vaccines and antiretroviral treatment. It's important to discuss with your healthcare provider which medicine you're taking to get the proper treatment for COVID-19. 3

Wrapping up

HIV and AIDS can be connected to severe illness due to COVID-19. This is because HIV and AIDS affect the immune system, which makes people with these conditions more prone to infections, such as an infection with the coronavirus. In order to protect yourself and those around you, it’s vital to take preventative measures and get tested if you experience symptoms. 


Q: Can COVID-19 make you test positive for HIV? 
A: COVID-19 will not make you test positive for HIV. Having HIV will also not make you test positive for COVID-19. 

Q: Does HIV cause complications with COVID-19? 
People with HIV are at a higher risk of complications due to an infection with the coronavirus. This is because the immune system gets attacked by HIV, which makes it more challenging to fight the coronavirus. 

Q: What medication is used for HIV patients with COVID-19? 
If you have HIV and test positive for COVID-19, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible, as you may be eligible for antiviral treatment, which can help support your immune system in fighting the coronavirus. 

Q: Should people with HIV get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is recommended for those with HIV, as this will help your immune system fight the coronavirus if exposed to it. There’s no scientific evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine would interact with HIV treatment. 

Q: What are the outcomes of HIV and COVID-19? 
Having HIV can put you at a higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. It’s important to take preventative measures to avoid getting infected. If you experience symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible and talk to your healthcare provider about next steps.