“There have been worries regarding a more severe and worse prognosis of COVID-19 in people living with HIV since the beginning of the pandemic, due to the higher frequency and danger of complications from infections with other recognized respiratory viruses.” In reality, early data from the United States, South Africa, and the United Kingdom were inconclusive, showing no substantial differences in the severity of HIV infection and the need for urgent care between HIV-positive and HIV-negative people. New summary analyses, based on data from hundreds of trials and millions of patients, demonstrate an elevated risk of severe infection, COVID-19-related hospitalization, and mortality in HIV-positive people, even in the presence of HIV virus cargo control.”

Prof. Dr. Maria Nikolova, MD, revealed this in an interview as part of the Bulgarian Ministry of Health’s “Plus Men” campaign to highlight the benefits of COVID-19 immunization. Prof. Nikolova is the Chair of the Advisory Board on HIV/AIDS and STIs at the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, as well as the Director of the National Reference Laboratory of Immunology and the Department of Immunology.

According to the WHO Global Anonymous Platform, a new study comprising 197,479 patients from 38 countries indicated that people living with HIV are 15% more likely to have a severe or critical course of COVID-19 and 38% more likely to die following hospitalization, independent of medication. People living with HIV are substantially more likely than the general population to have at least one chronic comorbidity, which complicates the course of COVID-19.

Prof. Nikolova further points out that unvaccinated HIV (+) people acquire signs of “long” COVID up to four times more commonly than HIV (-) people who are not vaccinated after an infection, according to new research. Easy fatigue (42 percent), muscle discomfort (24 percent), concentration problems (42 percent), visual problems (21 percent), and disturbed sleep are the most common complaints among HIV patients (34 percent ).

People living with HIV should take advantage of the summer months to be vaccinated, according to the Chair of the HIV/AIDS and STI Advisory Board. “As a result, they will be calm during the autumn season, when an increase in the frequency of infections can be expected and possibly – the emergence of new options,” Prof. Nikolova explains, adding that booster vaccination is recommended for people with moderate and severe immune deficiencies, people living with HIV over the age of 50, and those who have received the Janssen vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

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