Coronavirus, COVID-19, and Considerations for People Living with HIV and LGBTQIA+ People
Who Is At Risk?
The virus is highly contagious and threatens everybody in terms of its infectiousness. That said, there are some groups that are particularly vulnerable to developing serious complications:
What Can You Do To Reduce Your Risk of Becoming Infected?
Clean your hands often:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Take steps to protect others:
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Cover coughs and sneezes:
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a facemask if you are sick or sneezing or coughing:
If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
If you don't have a facemask, making them are easy. Here's how you can make your own DIY facemask
Clean and disinfect:
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
What Can You Do To Help Yourself and Others Cope
Reject Sigma! Do not scapegoat or blame groups of people
Despite the claims of some irresponsible leaders, the coronavirus is not the fault of any one country or racial/ethnic group. Viruses are part of our world and our shared human history.
As LGBTQIA+ people and/or people living with HIV, we know how HIV stigma and anti-LGBTQIA+ stigma can enable the spread of HIV. It’s important not to stigmatize the coronavirus.
No single racial or ethnic group of people is at greater risk of contracting or spreading the virus. The virus knows no borders and does not discriminate. Racism and xenophobia, including anti- Chinese and anti-Asian racism, are not helpful responses.
Stigma can also occur after a person has been released from COVID-19 quarantine even though they are not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others.
It is important to remember that people – including those of Asian descent who do not live in or have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, or have not been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.
Manage Your Anxiety and Stress
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
Finally, it’s important to practice self-care and remain hopeful. We are in for a long haul, but we will get through this together if we take the appropriate precautions and make sacrifices now for the greater societal good. Here are some ideas to help get you and the people you love through this:
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Check in on isolated individuals, especially people who are elderly or people living with a disability or chronic disease.
At the present time, we have no specific information about the risk of COVID-19 in people with HIV.
Older adults and people of any age who have a serious underlying medical condition might be at higher risk for severe illness, including people who are immunocompromised. The risk for people with HIV getting very sick is greatest in:
People with HIV can also be at increased risk of getting very sick with COVID-19 based on their age and other medical conditions.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid exposure to the virus.
People with HIV should take everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
People with HIV should also continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
Staying healthy helps your immune system fight off infection should it occur.
If you have HIV and are taking your HIV medicine, it is important to continue your treatment and follow the advice of your health care provider. This is the best way to keep your immune system healthy.
Nearly half of people in the United States with diagnosed HIV are aged 50 years and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of certain underlying health conditions. Both increased age and these conditions can increase their risk for more severe illness if people with HIV get COVID-19, especially people with advanced HIV.
Steps that people with HIV can take to prepare in addition to what is recommended for everybody:
Some types of HIV medicine (for example, lopinavir-ritonavir) to treat COVID-19 are being evaluated.
Results from a clinical trial in China showed that lopinavir-ritonavir did not speed up recovery or reduce the amount of virus produced in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and pneumonia.
Until more is known about the effects of these medicines on COVID-19, people with HIV should not switch their HIV medicine in an attempt to prevent or treat COVID-19.
Drug shortages or anticipated problems with HIV medicine have not been identified.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is closely monitoring the drug supply chain as the COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to disrupt the supply of medical and pharmaceutical products in the United States.
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) has also remained in contact with the major manufacturers of HIV medicine as many of these products rely on ingredients produced in China.
As of March 10, 2020, there were no reports of manufacturing concerns or supply shortages.
Learn more about the FDA’s response to COVID-19.
Minimizing stigma and misinformation about COVID-19 is very important. People with HIV have experience in dealing with stigma and can be allies in preventing COVID-19 stigma. Learn how you can reduce stigma and help prevent the spread of rumors about COVID-19
This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-87) via grant H89HA00007.
This document was funded with 100% governmental sources. The information or content and conclusions are those of the Nevada Office of HIV/AIDS Part B Program and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
The people in the photos on this web site are models and used for illustrative purposes only unless otherwise noted – no representation regarding HIV status is made and should not be inferred.
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