HIV TreatmentHIV and COVID-19 (New Coronavirus)

COVID-19 and HIV: What You Need to Know

(l to r) Artem_Egorov via iStock, BlackJack3D via iStock

    Frequently Asked QuestionsHIV, Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), & COVID-19

    When should a person with HIV get a coronavirus vaccine?

    As soon as you have access to one. We need more data specific to people living with HIV, but from what we know thus far, COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

    Can a person with HIV get vaccinated at an HIV clinic?

    Many clinics are not stocking COVID-19 vaccines, but you can locate one by checking with your local department of health or through pharmacies.

    What should a person with HIV do if they have the coronavirus?

    Keep taking your HIV meds. Stay home—get rest and stay hydrated. If you need to leave for medical care, call ahead. If you live with someone else, don't share any personal items. Clean surfaces frequently and keep washing your hands. Wear a snug-fitting mask when you're around others.

    What should a person with HIV do if they have been in contact with someone who has the coronavirus?

    Keep taking your HIV meds. Stay home and away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Watch for symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you need to leave for medical care, call ahead.

    If a person with HIV has the coronavirus, are they more likely to get very sick or die?

    We still aren't certain. Some studies say yes, but the risk may be higher if you aren’t taking your HIV medications and your CD4 count is low.

    How can people with HIV protect themselves from the coronavirus?

    Stay on HIV medications, and try to stay physically active and eat nutritionally. Beyond that: wear a mask in public, wash your hands, avoid travel and indoor crowds, practice physical distancing, rest, avoid stress, and get vaccinated as soon as you have access to a vaccine.

    Can HIV meds prevent or treat coronavirus infection?

    Not directly—there are no clear benefits to the use of any specific HIV medications in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. But HIV treatment in general may make your immune system stronger, which may help fight off the coronavirus.

    Are people living with HIV at greater risk for getting the new coronavirus?

    Scientists aren’t certain yet. While earlier studies did not show an association, recent research points to a heightened risk for acquiring the coronavirus, severe illness, hospitalization, and death in people with HIV—and the risk may be higher for people who are not on HIV treatment and have a low CD4 count.

    Does a person's CD4 (T-cell) count affect their coronavirus risk?

    Studies are conflicting but suggest that having a lower CD4 count, a sign of weakened immune function, may increase your risk. A "normal" CD4 count—which, depending on the person, can be anywhere from 450 to 1,100—can protect a person from many illnesses.

    Basic Info on the Coronavirus and HIV

    Research on Coronavirus Risk, Severity, and Testing

    Research on HIV Meds and COVID-19

    Myles Helfand

    Myles Helfand


    Myles Helfand is the executive editor and general manager of TheBody/TheBodyPro. A career journalist and editor, Myles joined TheBody in 2001 as a part-time copyeditor. He has since established himself as a leading journalist and content strategist on HIV-related issues, authoring hundreds of articles and editing hundreds more—and accumulating an ever-growing mountain of HIV conference badges along the way.

    Ginger Skinner

    Ginger Skinner


    Ginger Skinner is the science editor of TheBody/TheBodyPro. A health reporter and editor based in Brooklyn, N.Y., she has 15 years of experience covering scientific research for publications, non-profit organizations, and startups, including Consumer Reports, Elysium Health, Einstein Magazine, NeedyMeds, Everyday Health, and Center for Advancing Health.

    Mathew Rodriguez

    Mathew Rodriguez


    Mathew Rodriguez was an editor at TheBody/TheBodyPro from 2012 to 2015 and from 2019 to May 2021. An award-winning queer Latinx journalist and essayist, he is now a senior culture editor at The Atlantic; his past work has been featured in Mic, Out, POZ, Slate, and The Village Voice. He is also an adjunct faculty member at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.