The latest pandemic has taken a toll on human lives around the world, sabotaging economies, stock markets, and creating a sense of panic. With over a thousand deaths per day, the new coronavirus has created a challenge that is yet to be overcome by humanity. With a high percentage of death ratio among individuals over 50 years of age and in people with a weak immune system, questions arise, as to what happens to HIV patients who already suffer from a weakened state of immune system.
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19 is attacks the respiratory system, causing breathing difficulties and an array of symptoms such as fever, cough, flu, diarrhea, and vomiting. With a seemingly low death toll to Spanish flu, which wiped out almost one-third of the world population, people often suggest that Covid-19 is not that big a deal. However, what most people do not understand is, that Covid-19 is a pandemic, not due to its high death toll, but due to its excessive rate of spread, which is one of the primary reasons that governments around the world urge social distancing as a preventative measure.
One of the biggest challenges to HIV patients is that Covid-19 does not have a vaccine yet, and without a new ground breaking discoveries, it is yet to be confirmed when an actual vaccine could be possible. With various theories going on around the world about potential and possible vaccine solutions, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not given out a final verdict yet.
What does it mean for HIV patients?
Patients suffering from HIV have a weakened immune system, which technically means that they are prone to Covid-19 despite their age factor. However, certain scientists have reported that some of the HIV medications, such as opinavir/ritonavir could be effective in fighting of the latest coronavirus. This claim is based on the fact that there is slight evidence of HIV medications working against SARS and MERS, which are both categories of coronavirus. However, clinical trials are still in process and need further establishment to understand whether the medications help fight the latest coronavirus.
What should HIV Patients do?
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus is social distancing and maintaining self-hygiene. People need to regularly wash their hands with soap and sanitizer to wash off the virus from their hands. Secondly, people need to avoid touching their face or eyes, as coronavirus can enter the body through eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Patients diagnosed with HIV should also stay indoors and contact medical authorities as soon as they develop symptoms similar to Covid-19. HIV patients should not alter their medication routine or switch to other medications as a means to prevent Covid-19. It is important to understand that individuals with CD4 count below 350cells/mL have compromised immune systems. Therefore, they are likely to feel a greater impact once infected with Covid-19.
However, it is important to note that people with regular smoking habits have a compromised respiratory system and puts them at a greater health risk from coronavirus. It is advised that HIV patients need to maintain a one-month supply of medications at all times to ensure their therapy do not get affected. Since it is plausible that lockdowns can affect the supply chain of medicines, a shortage of medical supplies can be expected.
Bottom line is, HIV patients are not directly at a greater threat due to their condition, as long as they maintain their medications on time without altering the pattern. Covid-19 can be lethal for people with weak immune systems. Therefore, it is advised to take all necessary precautions and boost your immune system via natural food intake to prepare for the advancing pandemic.