Study Found Fewer COVID-19 Cases in People With HIV

Study Found Fewer COVID-19 Cases in People With HIV

By 2020, people with HIV were less likely to test positive for COVID-19. This was revealed by a study carried out in the city of San Francisco, California, and published in the medical journal The Lancet HIV.

Following the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic, several efforts have been made to understand the relationship between covid and HIV. 

The research team for this study, based at the University of California, San Francisco, focused on measuring the antibody response to coronavirus in people diagnosed with COVID-19.

The antibody count indicates whether a person is (or has been before) infected with the coronavirus. Thus, the prevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 was 3.7% in people with HIV and 7.4% in people without HIV. This means that the probability of having had the infection was 50% lower in people with HIV.

By dividing the data by ethnicity, the researchers found that people of Latin American origin were 6 times more likely than white people to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, regardless of whether or not they had HIV.  This same ethnic difference was also observed among people with HIV.

The Crucial Role of the Immune System

Of the 955 people with HIV who took part in the study, there were 5 cases of severe COVID-19, while of the 1,162 participants without HIV, 2 had a severe coronavirus disease. In 3 of the 5 severe cases of people with HIV, these people had a very weakened immune system, with a CD4 cell count of fewer than 200 cells/mm3.

In contrast, the research also found that people with HIV had weaker antibody responses than those seen in people without HIV. Antibody concentrations were 42% lower in people with HIV than in those without HIV. Likewise, antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in people with HIV were 53% less efficient in neutralizing the coronavirus.

Against this background, the researchers comment that, more than HIV, the low levels of immune cells could be the factor that explains the differences observed, since, in the group of seropositive people in the study, up to 25% of them presented a very weak immune system. With CD4 levels less than 250 cells/mm3.

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