Novel Coronavirus pandemic is a global concern but people with underlying health conditions that are affecting the immune system are significantly at higher risk. People with HIV are one of those high-risk groups.
According to medical experts, those who are using viral-suppressing drugs, anti-retroviral drugs are less vulnerable to coronavirus as compared to the general population.
The founding executive director of the Prevention Access Campaign, Bruce Richman said that many people suffering from HIV or those with undiagnosed HIV and have no access to anti-retroviral treatment makes them more vulnerable to novel coronavirus as it is spreading worldwide.
Director of policy for National Center of Transgender Equality, Harper Jean Tobin said generally viruses don’t show prejudice but inequalities make some communities more vulnerable. She added that such global pandemics don’t spot the lines of race, nationalities, gender but the inequalities we have to make us all less safe.
Since the first coronavirus case was reported in December 2019, nearly 127,000 cases have been confirmed and about 4,700 deaths have been reported worldwide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that COVID-19 tends to be more potent and dangerous for elder people. CDC recommends elderly people who are aged 60 or above to stay at their homes and socially distance to avoid this highly contagious infection.
While HIV can make some people immunocompromised but if people having HIV are taking the proper medication regularly, they can have a healthy life. If people suffering from HIV are taking successful treatment, they can’t pass on this further and can have a strong and healthy immune system.
After six months of regular intake of anti-retroviral drugs, a viral load of a person becomes undetectable to such an extent that it even becomes non-transmissible to other people.
There are huge disparities related to the access of proper HIV care in the United States. People who can’ afford consistent virus-suppressing medication, shelter risk or healthcare weakening their immune systems because they are unable to keep their T cells (CD4 cells) count up.
If the body doesn’t have an adequate number of T cells, it becomes more vulnerable as it has weakened the defence system against infections and viruses like novel coronavirus causing severe respiratory disease, COVID-19.
Almost half of the 1 million Americans suffering from HIV are not receiving proper medication and healthcare they need for staying healthy and to stop passing infection. United States is doing much worse compared to any high-income countries in providing healthcare to people with HIV.
These disparities are the result of costly medications along with social and structural challenges like poverty, racism, homelessness and HIV stigma.
In 2019, the US President Donald Trump pledged to end the transmission of HIV by the year 2030.
According to an estimate, 160,000 people in America have undiagnosed HIV. Due to disparities which exist in access to both HIV medication and STI testing, several marginalized communities are extremely impacted by HIV spread in the US, and hurdles to know their status.
Majority of the people living with HIV who are not receiving proper healthcare are the people who are transgenders, black, Latinx and other low income and marginalized communities. These people are at greater risk for novel coronavirus and other comorbidities.
This highlights the inequality that has been existing historically in the United States, this becomes more divided once a vaccine or other effective treatment becomes available.