Are Covid-19 Vaccines Effective in HIV-Positive Individuals?

A lot has been said about Covid-19 and the way the virus affects individuals who are HIV-positive. An important question about the coronavirus, however, remains unanswered. Is the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines high enough when a person is HIV-positive? A recent study has attempted to find the answer in a more thorough way than its predecessors.

Covid-19 Vaccines: A Good Choice for HIV-Positive Individuals

The results of the recent study were published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.  Researchers compared the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine in a control group to that among HIV-positive participants in the trial.

Post-vaccination results were examined in 2,068 HIV-positive individuals and 4,454 healthy controls.

Researchers found out that HIV-positive individuals who received the Covid-19 shot exhibited positive immunogenicity and effectiveness. While the results were slightly lower than in the case of healthy controls, a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine was linked to an increase in effectiveness, regardless of HIV status.

According to the research team, the administration of additional booster doses could further improve effectiveness of mRNA vaccines among HIV-positive recipients.

This latest study comes in the aftermath of several smaller clinical trials aimed at establishing the effectiveness of Covid-19 shots among HIV patients. One of the most prominent earlier studies was carried out by Italian researcher Mark Mascolini. The results were presented during the 2021 European AIDS Conference.

The sample group consisted of 166 people with HIV and a control group of healthy individuals.  Participants were vaccinated with one of two mRNA vaccines and responses were tracked. It was established that those with CD4 counts of 500 or more had the strongest antibody response to the shot. In fact, the response was as strong as the one among healthy individuals in the control group.

People with a CD4 count in the range from 500 to 200 had a slightly less pronounced response to vaccination. Individuals having a CD4 count under the 200 threshold exhibited the weakest response to the shot.

CD4 or T-cells are an important part of the immune response. These white blood cells are the actual fighters responsible for combatting infectious agents. A CD4 count of 200 or less is considered an important threshold that makes the body very vulnerable to opportunistic infections. It’s also considered the point at which a person gets diagnosed with AIDS and has to immediately start taking medications in order to strengthen the immune response.

Covid-19 Vaccines and HIV: What Are the Current Recommendations

These results and the fact that a fairly large sample group was studied are good news for HIV-positive individuals who want to protect themselves. The findings of the study also come to support current recommendations as far as Covid-19 vaccination goes.

HIV-positive individuals are considered a priority group to receive the Covid-19 shot. The reason is simple. The immunocompromised status of some people dealing with HIV and AIDS increases the risk of complications following a coronavirus infection.

Current research suggests that all commercially available vaccines work well in HIV-positive people who want to protect themselves from a Covid-19 infection. The same applies to booster shots.

One things that has to be kept in mind is that CD4 count is a strong indicator of how effective the vaccination is going to be.

Research suggests that people who have a CD4 count below the threshold of 200 may have a weaker antibody response to the Covid-19 shot.  This fact has only been established for mRNA vaccines and additional scientific investigation will have to be carried out, focusing on the effects of other vaccine kinds.

As the Covid-19 vaccines do not introduce an infectious agent in the body, they are considered a safe choice even for those who have a compromised immune response due to their HIV infection.

Important Facts about Covid-19 Shots and HIV Medications

If you’re an HIV-positive person and you’re considering Covid-19 vaccination, you may be wondering about the way in which it’s going to interact with your medications.

Some research suggests that Covid-19 shots may interact with antiretroviral therapy (ART). Anyone who is taking ART medications should talk to their doctor before getting a Covid-19 shot.  It’s important for the HIV treatment to remain uninterrupted. Continue taking your medicine, your doctor will give you an idea about how and when to get a Covid-19 shot.

It’s also very important to point out that there’s no evidence of Covid-19 shots reducing the effectiveness of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). These are medications used to prevent a potential HIV infection and they should be administered accordingly, regardless of whether a person has gotten a Covid-19 shot or not.

Know Your Status

Knowing your HIV status, taking measures to protect yourself and seeking treatment if you happen to be positive are all important to maintain your health.

You can easily find out your HIV status by visiting a men’s health clinic like Shim Clinic. Just come to the clinic during working hours every day of the week or contact us to have your questions answered. We promise the provision of detailed information to address every single worry you may have about HIV or other STDs.