HIV and COVID-19

The following was informed by the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HIV and COVID-19. Please refer to this page for additional guidance.


According to the CDC, people at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 include older adults and those with existing health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. There are more than 11,200 people over the age of 50 living with HIV in San Francisco. They make up 70% of the city’s HIV population. Coronavirus poses a serious threat to ALRP’s clients, ~70% of whom were over the age of 50 in 2019.

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HIV and COVID-19.

“At the present time, we have no specific information about the risk of COVID-19 in people with HIV.

The risk from immune suppression is not known, but with other viral respiratory infections, the risk for people with HIV getting very sick is greatest in:

  • People with a low CD4 cell count, and
  • People not on HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy or ART).

People with HIV can also be at increased risk of getting very sick with COVID-19 based on their age and other medical conditions.”

The CDC’s FAQs page includes additional guidance on how people living with HIV can prepare for the outbreak of COVID-19:

  • Make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your HIV medicine and any other medications or medical supplies you need for managing HIV.
  • Talk to your health care provider and make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date, including vaccinations against seasonal influenza and bacterial pneumonia because these vaccine preventable diseases disproportionally affect people with HIV.
  • Establish a plan for clinical care if you have to stay at home for a couple of weeks. Try to establish a telemedicine link through your HIV care provider’s online portal. If telemedicine is not available to you, make sure you can communicate with your provider by phone or text.
  • Make sure you can maintain a social network remotely, such as online, by phone, or by video chat. This can help you stay socially connected and mentally healthy, which is especially important for people with HIV.
  • People with HIV can sometimes be more likely than others to need extra help, from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, and others. If you become sick make sure you stay in touch by phone or email with people who can help you.

As a reminder, the symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your health care provider immediately.