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How People Living With HIV Can Protect Themselves From COVID-19

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The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association have created a resource for people living with HIV, as well as for medical professionals and public health officials, about the best practices in areas that have been impacted by COVID-19.

As the resource shows, much of the prevention methods are the same for people living with HIV as with those who are HIV-negative. However, those living with HIV require a bit more monitoring. 

* Social Distancing: Avoid crowds and public places. Clinic and clinical protocols should be adjusted without compromising the patient’s health to support social distancing.

* Routine Office Visits: For stable patients, or patients with non-urgent appointments, schedule a telephone or telehealth encounter if that is an option, says the resource. For patients with non-respiratory urgent concerns, consider keeping the appointment or offering a telehealth or telephone visit if those are options.

NOTE: Information on Medicare and Medicaid telehealth coverage is available in the IDSA COVID-19 Resource Center’s Coverage & Payment Section. For protocols for telehealth and in person appointments, please see the Clinical Policies & Protocols section of the resource center.

READ MORE: LGBTQ People Especially at Risk for COVID-19, Say 100+ Organizations

* Prescription Drug Refills: People should maintain at least a 30-day supplemental supply of their medications to prevent the possibility of treatment interruptions. The resource goes on to say that a number of health insurers and state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs are “allowing early medication refills and lifting quantity limits in addition to making other changes to their coverage policies.”

Professionals recommend that doctors should contact their patient’s health insurers to request an early refill or a 60-to-90-day supply and encourage them to use mail order if that is an option for them.

* Monitoring Your Viral Load: For those presently with viral suppression and no concerns for non-adherence, consider delaying routine viral load monitoring for up to an additional six months, the resource suggests. Patients who have recently started antiretroviral treatment, those who are not yet virally suppressed, and people with adherence or drug resistance concerns should be prioritized for viral load testing. Learn more here.

* Diagnostic Testing: People living with HIV who are experiencing fever or symptoms of COVID-19 should be prioritized for diagnostic testing regardless of their viral load status or T cell count.

The resource will be updating as more information arrives... 

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