An HIV carrier is less likely to succumb to the severe effects of the latest coronavirus based on the findings of Spanish scientists. It is true that those who have been diagnosed with HIV are at risk of dying even from the simplest of illnesses since their immune system has already been weakened by the disease. However, in the city of Madrid, the rate of deaths in those who have the said disease and the recent virus was fewer compared to those who did not have HIV.
The results of the study in Spain’s city came after a previous clinical study was conducted in China which showed that patients who were receiving anti HIV drugs were at low risk to Covid-19.
Scientists agree that understanding the connection between an HIV carrier and Covid-19 may lead to a possible vaccine to help halt the spread of the ongoing pandemic.
Do HIV carriers test positive? Based on Dr. Pilar Vizcarra and her colleagues’ examination of the medical records of almost 3,000 HIV patients, including the 51 identified Covid-19 positive HIV patients, the rate of the infection was just 1.7% when compared to the 4% of the city’s entire population.
Vizcarra wrote that this was the first-ever study that has given a comprehensive detail with regards to the rate of infection of Covid-19 in those who have been diagnosed with HIV as opposed to the rest of the population within the same area.
Based on their study, only two of the patients who had both HIV and Covid-19 died. This represented a mortality rate of just 4% which is on par with the number of deaths in other countries like in the United States but it is quite low in Spain’s city where there is only 20% in terms of fatality rate.
However, this does not mean that HIV carriers will not be susceptible to the ongoing virus.
Researchers of the study stated that even when the rate of mortality was low for HIV patients, 25% of those who were infected with the recent coronavirus experience severe side effects with 12% taken to the ICU. This is higher compared to others in the population.
Additionally, the researchers discovered that exposure to the coronavirus puts an HIV-positive patient at a higher risk of developing kidney failure as well as elevated blood pressure.
Based on the data that they have gathered and the results available, the study showed that there weren’t any massive differences between the characteristics, available treatments, or with the outcomes between those who contracted the virus while they are positive for HIV and those who do not have the disease but were exposed to Covid-19.
Similarities Between HIV and Sars-Cov-2
Researchers of the study did find some similarities between these two diseases. For example, a team of researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou Province in China discovered that these two viruses had the same techniques when it comes to avoiding a person’s immune system. They also have the same tricks when entering the cell of its host.
Scientists suspect that the low death rate in HIV patients with Covid-19 is due to the anti HIV drugs that they are using along with their isolation practices and having a less overreacting immune system.
There are some HIV medications that prevent the virus from attaching itself to the cells of the host which may have the same results in the presence of the recent viral infection. Scientists in Wuhan, where the first outbreak occurred, determined that there were no cases of coronavirus infection among their HIV patients who have been taking ritonavir and lopinavir. These two medications have been used for suppressing the spread of HIV since 2000. Wang Guangfa, who is an expert in respiratory illnesses said that lopinavir helped with his recovery when he was infected during the initial outbreak.
However, there is not enough evidence from wide-scale research that can prove that taking anti-HIV drugs will be effective in fighting off the coronavirus. Vizcarra and his team determined that using lopinavir hasn’t helped improve the condition of a coronavirus patient, but rather tenofovir, showed some positive effects.
Life scientist, Professor Gu Chaojiang, who is currently studying both the recent coronavirus and HIV stated that although these two viruses were different from one another, they have the same structure in terms of spikes in protein that causes the viruses to attach themselves to the cells. He further stated that finding a cure to treat the ongoing pandemic within medications given to HIV carriers is highly likely.
Gu further stated that since there is a similarity between HIV and Sars-Cov-2, it is likely that the latter may persist just like HIV with the exception that it will not mutate as quickly as that of HIV. He believes that if the countries unite in their efforts of stopping the pandemic, there is a huge chance that the evolution of the viral infection can be slowed down. If not, any drugs or vaccines even that have been created using the genetic data gathered from the early stages of the virus may not prove to be effective in treating the said outbreak.
Do HIV Carriers Test Positive for the Coronavirus?
Based on the studies that were conducted both in Spain and China, HIV carriers can also contract the disease, but because of the anti-viral treatments that they are using, there is a small percentage of these patients experiencing the severe effects of the pandemic. Scientists agree that Covid-19 and HIV may have similarities in how they attach to the host, but they are still conducting studies on whether treatments used for HIV patients may help with improving their condition.
There is still much to be done before a Covid-19 or an HIV cure can be found. With the ongoing pandemic still taking a toll on many countries, scientists are scrambling to find a way to help stem the number of positive patients and slow down the death toll across the globe. With the protective measures in place and awareness of the effects of the current global pandemic, it is possible that we can slow down the spread of the coronavirus.