PEOPLE living with HIV (PLHIV) and on Antiretroviral treatment (ART) have been urged to continue on their medications as prescribed by their doctors even after they would have tested positive for COVID-19.
By Patricia Mashiri
Dr Mkholeli Ngwenya the World Health Organization Zimbabwe Technical Officer said all PLHIV should take all recommended preventative measures to minimize exposure to and prevent infection from the virus that causes COVID-19 as they are at an increased risk of more severe outcomes from COVID-19 compared with another people.
Studies show how HIV and COVID-19 together can still affect PLHIV are still ongoing. PLHIV should continue to take their medicines. In the event of difficulties in accessing their treatment, they should discuss with their pharmacist of health-care providers options for alternative access or delivery options.
“It is important for PLHIV to continue their antiretroviral therapy and other medications as prescribed as COVID-19 treatments will be supportive without disturbing the ART,” Dr Ngwenya said.
Dr added that COVID-19 affects PLHIV the same way it affects other people therefore HIV should be included in the category of high-risk medical conditions when developing vaccine priority.
“PLHIV should should be vaccinated against COVID-19, regardless of their CD4 or viral load, because the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks,” he said.
Tariro Kutadza an advocate for people living with HIV however said vaccine hesitancy was still rife in people living with HIV as they feared the jabs might interact with the drugs they are already taking.
“There is still vaccine hesitancy amongst PLHIV and because a lot of people are not focusing on the positive side the vaccines are bringing.
“Therefore we should to have more information about COVID-19 and vaccination such that they will embrace it,”Kutadza said