HIV Medications May Lower Risk of COVID-19, Study Finds

A new study has revealed that HIV-positive people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications have a lower risk of getting coronavirus, experiencing severe symptoms, and dying from COVID-19-related complications.

Researchers found that only 0.3 percent of the 78,000 HIV-positive people studied, or 236 individuals, had contracted a confirmed case of coronavirus. Of these people, 64% (151) required hospitalization, 6.4% (15) needed ICU care, and 8.5% (20) died.

After adjusting for factors like age and gender, researchers concluded that those living with HIV who were taking ART meds had “the lowest risk for a COVID-19-related hospitalization.” They suspect this is because of the ART meds’ ability to prevent viruses from replicating within the body.

“Compared with the general population, this risk for COVID-19 diagnosis was lower among persons with HIV: 30.0 vs. 41.7 per 10,000 persons,” the study author’s wrote.

The study was conducted by the Plan Nacional sobre el Sida (or the Spanish National AIDS Plan) and examined HIV -positive people living in Spain for a 75-day period, from February 1 to April 15.

“We took advantage of the overlap between 2 ongoing pandemics (HIV and SARS-CoV-2) in Spain,” the investigators concluded. “Our results suggest that the risk for COVID-19 diagnosis is not higher in HIV-positive persons than in the general population, and that HIV-positive patients receiving TDF/FTC had a lower risk for COVID-19 and related hospitalization than other HIV-positive persons.”