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BMC Public Health







With the indiscriminate spread of COVID-19 globally, many populations are experiencing negative consequences such as job loss, food insecurity, and inability to manage existing medical conditions and maintain preventive measures such as social distancing and personal preventative equipment. Some of the most disadvantaged in the COVID-19 era are people living with HIV/AIDS and other autoimmune diseases.


As the number of new HIV infections decrease globally, many subpopulations remain at high risk of infection due to lack of or limited access to prevention services, as well as clinical care and treatment. For persons living with HIV or at higher risk of contracting HIV, including persons who inject drugs or men that have sex with men, the risk of COVID-19 infection increases if they have certain comorbidities, are older than 60 years of age, and are homeless, orphaned, or vulnerable children. The risk of COVID-19 is also more significant for those that live in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, rural, and/or poverty-stricken areas. An additional concern for those living the HIV is the double stigma that may arise if they also test positive for COVID-19. As public health and health care workers try to tackle the needs of the populations that they serve, they are beginning to realize the need for a change in the infrastructure that will include more efficient partnerships between public health, health care, and HIV programs.


Persons living with HIV that also have other underlying comorbidities are a great disadvantage from the negative consequences of COVID-19. For those that may test positive for both HIV and COVID-19, the increased psychosocial burdens stemming from stress and isolation, as well as, experiencing additional barriers that inhibit access to care, may cause them to become more disenfranchised. Thus, it becomes very important during the current pandemic for these challenges and barriers to be addressed so that these persons living with HIV can maintain continuity of care, as well as, their social and mental support systems.


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