The Institute said at this stage, people with HIV, even those on ART, are at higher risk of developing serious health complications following an influenza infection. 
Picture: (Karoline Preisler via AP)
The Institute said at this stage, people with HIV, even those on ART, are at higher risk of developing serious health complications following an influenza infection. Picture: (Karoline Preisler via AP)

Coronavirus: No proof on whether people with HIV or TB are more at risk

By Staff Writer Time of article published Mar 17, 2020

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There is no information to confirm whether people living with TB or HIV have a greater or lesser chance of acquiring Covid-19.

"At this point we can only relate to what is known about other viral infections such as the influenza virus in these populations. It must be stressed, however, that SARS-CoV-2 is a different virus and may have different effects in these populations,"  the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a statement on Tuesday.

The NICD, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, has surveillance systems in place to rapidly collect information related to HIV/TB and Covid-19 in South Africa and will provide updated information and guidance once data are available.

The Institute said at this stage, people with HIV, even those on ART, are at higher risk of developing serious health complications following an influenza infection. 

"The risk is especially high in those who have very low CD4+ counts or those who are not taking ART. The flu vaccine is efficacious and recommended for all PLHIV. Available evidence suggests that people with active TB who are infected with influenza may have more severe illness and indicates that a dual infection increases risk,"  the Institution said. 

It added that high prevalence of chronic lung damage is well described amongst people previously successfully treated for TB. These individuals have poorer lung function than the general population and are thus at a greater risk for severe disease.

"Since both Covid-19 and TB are transmitted through respiratory secretions there is the possibility that symptomatic individuals with both Covid-19 and TB may transmit TB or Covid-19 more readily. Adherence to preventative measures are therefore important. Early reports indicate that some antiviral agents used to treat HIV have an effect on SARS-CoV-2 under laboratory conditions. However, we do not yet know the implications of this finding in preventing infection with SARS-CoV-2 or decreasing the severity of Covid-19 amongst people living with HIV/Aids or in the general population. These studies are purely experimental at this stage," the Institute said. 

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