People with HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, have an increased risk of COVID-19 reinfection, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Looking at COVID-19 and HIV infections in Chicago, CDC researchers determined that reinfection rates were consistently higher among those with HIV compared to those without HIV, even when adjusting for demographic factors, residence and COVID-19 vaccination status.

CDC researchers analyzed data from March 2020 through May 2022 from 453,687 Chicago residents with reported COVID-19 cases and found a total of 5 percent experienced a COVID-19 infection more than 90 days after their first, including 6.7 percent — or 192 out of 2,886 — of those with HIV and 5.2 percent — or 23,642 out of the 450,701 —of those without HIV.

The study found those with HIV who experienced COVID-19 reinfections were older, with a median age of 43 years old, compared to the median age of 36 years old from those without HIV.

Those with HIV were also more likely than those without to have had one full COVID-19 vaccination round plus an additional dose, 31.8 percent versus 22.1 percent. Among those with COVID-19 reinfections, those with HIV were also less likely to be unvaccinated than compared to those without HIV, 87.5 percent versus 91 percent.

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HIV attacks the body’s immune system and if not treated, can lead to AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. While multiple studies have shown those who are immunocompromised may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, the CDC noted the lack of understanding surrounding any connection between HIV infections and COVID-19 reinfections.

The study further found reinfection rates in those with HIV remained higher than those without regardless of their white blood cell count, which determine patients’ immune function.

“This finding indicates that even persons with well-controlled HIV infection might have a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 reinfection compared with PWOH [person without HIV],” researchers wrote.

Following the findings, the CDC said it recommends people with HIV follow the recommended COVID-19 vaccine schedule and booster doses to avert a COVID-19 reinfection.

“Evaluating the association between HIV infection and SARS-CoV-2 reinfections using surveillance data can help strengthen public health recommendations including the need for extra doses as part of a primary series, booster doses of vaccine, and optimized ART [antiretroviral therapy] in PWH [people with HIV]. Tailored guidance and prevention messaging for PWH can help reduce the elevated risk we identified in this analysis and limit continued SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” researchers wrote.

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