Recently there has been some scaremongering about the Australian Covid-19 CSL vaccine which was found to be giving trial participants false positive HIV test results.
With social media abuzz with people opining that this vaccine gives HIV which it doesn’t, some countries have recommended that people with HIV should be given priority for vaccination against Covid-19 once the most at-risk groups—the elderly and frontline healthcare workers—have received their shots.
Germany has said people with HIV will be included in a third tier of priority patients—along with the over-60s, people with conditions such as heart, kidney and liver disease, and those working in key sectors like education. In Britain, people with HIV will be included in the sixth priority group for vaccination, after those aged 65 and over, healthcare workers and people with more severe health conditions.
The vaccines are safe for people with HIV and doctors are recommending that everyone living with HIV should have the Covid-19 vaccine when they are offered it.
Countries such as the UK, have tiered system that elevates people to a higher priority level depending depending on a CD4 count less than 50, recently had a severe HIV-related illness or CD4 count between 50 and 200 and other issues or conditions that would significantly increase the risk of getting sick.
Some of the vaccines, such as the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines, specifically recruited people living with HIV … At present there has been no evidence presented to suggest that people with HIV have a different response to the Covid vaccine. Vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer contain only mRNA—no live microorganisms—and the Russian vaccine contains genetically modified adenovirus without the capacity for multiplication.
However the Russian vaccine has not been tested on people with HIV. None of the vaccines currently being scaled up or undergoing regulatory review … use live viruses as the mechanism to stimulate antibodies, and it is live vaccines that are most likely to cause problems for people living with HIV.
For people living with HIV, the Covid-19 vaccines bring the same benefits as they bring to all individuals and communities—prevention of severe disease due to COVID-19 and potentially reduced transmission of the SARS-CoV2 virus. People living with HIV should ensure that they are taking effective HIV antiviral treatment which not only keeps people healthy, but also prevents ongoing transmission of HIV. There are no concerns around interaction with HIV medication at all.