Get answers to frequently-asked questions about HIV and COVID-19, including about the COVID vaccines. FAQ content re-posted from HIV.gov (as-of Nov. 8, 2021).
Frequently Asked Questions
Are people with HIV at higher risk for COVID-19 than other people?
Based on what we know at this time, people with untreated HIV may be more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19. Other factors can also make you more likely to become severely ill, such as age and certain underlying medical conditions.
Older adults, people with certain medical conditions, and pregnant and recently pregnant people should take preventive actions (including getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and practicing physical distancing) to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with HIV?
The U.S. vaccine safety system makes sure all vaccines are as safe as possible. People with HIV were included in clinical trials. COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same safety tests and met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rigorous scientific standards needed to support emergency use authorization. On August 23, 2021, the FDA granted full approval for Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 years and older.
People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you:
- Visit vaccines.gov,
- Text your ZIP code to 438829, or
- Call 1-800-232-0233.
Learn more about what CDC and other federal agencies are doing to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
Do I need an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
People who have advanced or untreated HIV may benefit from an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19.
If you have advanced or untreated HIV, CDC recommends that you receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after your second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your health care provider to determine if getting an additional dose is right for you.
People who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and are 18 years and older should receive a booster shot at least 2 months after receiving their primary vaccine dose.
You should also talk to your health care provider about the benefits of HIV treatment. People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners. In fact, people with HIV who get and keep an undetectable viral load (or stay virally suppressed) have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners.
Will COVID-19 vaccines interfere with HIV medicine (antiretroviral therapy or ART) or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?
Based on what we currently know about COVID-19 vaccines, no evidence to suggests potential interactions with ART or PrEP. Learn more about the different COVID-19 vaccines.
What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19?
Nearly half of people in the United States with diagnosed HIV are ages 50 and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of certain underlying health conditions. Older age and underlying health conditions can make people with HIV more likely to become seriously ill if they get COVID-19. This is especially true for people with advanced HIV.
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19.
Most vaccinated people have mild illness and can recover at home. If you think you have COVID-19 and have symptoms of illness, you should get tested.
It’s important to continue taking your HIV medicine as prescribed. This will help keep your immune system healthy.
If you have severe symptoms, seek emergency medical care right away by calling 911. Call ahead to the emergency department and tell the operator that you may have COVID-19.
Learn more about COVID-19 and what to do if you get sick.
What else can people living with HIV who are at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19 do to protect themselves?
Here are more steps that people with HIV can take:
- Make sure you have at least a 30- to 90-day supply of your HIV medicine and any other medicines or medical supplies you need for managing HIV. Ask your health care provider about getting your medicine by mail.
- Talk to your health care provider and make sure all your vaccinations are up to date, including vaccinations against seasonal influenza (flu)and bacterial pneumonia. These vaccine-preventable diseases affect people with HIV more than others.
- When possible, keep your medical appointments. Check with your health care provider about safety precautions for office visits and ask about telemedicine or remote clinical care options.
- 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.
What can people with HIV do to protect themselves from COVID-19?
If you have HIV and are taking your HIV medicine, it is important to continue your treatment and follow your health care provider’s advice. This is the best way to keep your immune system healthy.
People with HIV can protect themselves from COVID-19 by taking these steps:
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Learn more about what you can do when you have been fully vaccinated.
If you have a weakened immune system, you may not be protected even if you are fully vaccinated. After vaccination, you should continue taking all everyday preventive actions recommended for unvaccinated people until advised otherwise by your health care provider.
Can HIV medicine (ART) be used to treat COVID-19?
Currently, treatment for COVID-19 is limited. Evidence does not show that any medicines used to treat HIV are effective against COVID-19. People with HIV should not switch their HIV medicine in an attempt to prevent or treat COVID-19.
Some clinical trials are looking at whether HIV medicines can treat COVID-19. Other trials are looking at the effectiveness of different drugs to treat COVID-19 in people with HIV. They are also looking to better understand how people with HIV manage COVID-19. You can learn more at ClinicalTrials.govexternal iconexternal icon.
Key Things to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccines
Fast Facts About the COVID-19 Vaccines & Boosters
- The COVID-19 vaccine and booster are safe and effective.
- Being fully vaccinated and boosted protects against severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19, including new variants.
- Children 5+ and adults in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of insurance or immigration status. Vaccines for children under 5 are expected soon.
- Booster shots are recommended for everyone 12+. Anyone 50+ or who is immunocompromised may get a second booster four months after their last one.
For more information go to COVID.gov
Stay up to date with your COVID vaccine, including boosters!
COVID vaccines are safe and effective for everyone ages 6 months and older.
Immunity wanes over time. Keep up your protection against COVID by getting boosted when eligible.
Updated (bivalent) boosters are available for adults and children 6 months and older.