In many of the trials of COVID-19 vaccines, a small number of people living with HIV were included. Despite limited data, it appears that current WHO-recommended COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/BioNtech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson) are safe for people living with HIV. As of now, there are no live vaccines available; they contain genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, a virus that cannot reproduce. Due to this, we shouldn’t anticipate a decrease in the safety of these vaccines in immunocompromised individuals. Moreover, no adverse interactions between COVID-19 vaccines and antiretroviral medications have been reported; people living with HIV are encouraged to continue taking antiretroviral medicines after vaccination.
Are people with HIV protected by COVID-19 vaccines?
Theoretically, HIV-positive people with low CD4 cell counts might have a weaker immune response to vaccinations. This has not been documented for all vaccines in practice, and there is no evidence that those living with HIV or low CD4 counts will respond less strongly to COVID-19 vaccines. In addition to reviewing new evidence as it emerges, WHO will also provide updates. Furthermore, advocacy must be done to ensure that NO ONE is overlooked and that COVID-19 vaccination programmes for key and vulnerable populations do not exclude those who may otherwise have inadequate access to health services. In addition, it is crucial to advocate for the inclusion of HIV-positive people, including those with advanced disease, in COVID-19 vaccine trials to confirm efficacy.