I am HIV-positive and I was vaccinated against coronavirus by Sputnik V vaccine

27 November 2020

With the mass-distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, many people with HIV have a question: can they be vaccinated? Especially considering that people living with HIV typically exclude from clinical trials, including COVID-19 vaccine trials. Scientists claim that there are no obstacles to this: people with HIV are similar to other participants who want to get vaccinated. AIDS.CENTER talked to a person who checked it out on his personal experience.

Lev (name has been changed - ed.) has been living with HIV for two years. He started therapy as soon as he learned about the diagnosis, and he still takes the medicine. “I feel wonderful,” he says in a conversation with AIDS.CENTER. He told why he decided to protect himself from the coronavirus with Sputnik V, how the procedure went and how it affected his health.

“I was inspired for vaccination by my boyfriend - he is a cancer researcher. He also participated in Sputnik V clinical trial. I also wanted to take part in it, but I was excluded from participation just because of my HIV-positive status. My boyfriend regularly monitors all clinical trials - this is part of his job, so all the risks were foreseen.

I found out that mass vaccination had begun in Moscow by accident - from social media, where funny videos are usually posted. Then I found in the application "My Moscow" information that first of all people from high-risk groups - doctors, teachers, and social workers - will be vaccinated. For the sake of interest, I decided to find out if it was possible to sign up and participate too. It was December 6, all slots for registration were free in the clinic to which I am assigned. They told me by phone: if there will be an opening, you can get a shot, and HIV is not a hindrance. I went to see a doctor, where I was asked about my health and ARV drugs that I take. The doctors enquired about documents from the AIDS center where I am being examined.

I also asked a few questions about coronavirus vaccination for people with HIV. I was told that there is no danger, the main thing is that there should be an undetectable viral load and the person should regularly take antiretroviral therapy. When I checked is it possible to get vaccinated, they replied that it is possible and even necessary. Doctors say, based on the recent research, it is safe procedure for HIV-positive people. Although I do not know anything about this, I was still very happy about such an opportunity. "

Recently, the British HIV Association (BHIVA) has developed guidelines for HIV-positive people who plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19. According to the document, nine priority groups were identified in the UK, which included doctors, social workers, and the elderly. HIV-positive British people were assigned to the sixth group. First, the vaccine will be given to the participants in the first group, then everyone else is vaccinated in order.

“After I got a first shot of the vaccine, I waited about 40-60 minutes for a possible allergic reaction. I went through a second examination and, in general, everything was fine, - says Lev. - I didn't have any side effects, although it seemed that the temperature rose. But it was only a feeling: the thermometer showed 36.6. I think it was psychosomatic. " He will receive the second dose of the vaccine on December 27 - three weeks after the first one.

“Of course, I felt calmer. The funny thing is that you understand that you have been vaccinated and antibodies soon should appear. But now there are certain codes of conduct, for example, not to tube it without a mask. "

Anton Eremin, an infectious disease physician at the Moscow Regional AIDS Center and Medical Director of the AIDS.CENTER, says: if an HIV-positive person takes antiretroviral therapy and has an undetectable viral load, then he has no contraindications to vaccination against coronavirus.

“Now the medical community has no reason to believe that the Sputnik V vaccine will not be safe for people with HIV. Sputnik V uses no live virus, but only contains an adenovirus vector that encodes a coronavirus full-length spike protein. Such vaccines should not cause long-term severe side effects, including in HIV-positive people. This is also proved by the results of several clinical trials,” said the physician.

Recently, HIV-positive people have been included in clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine that being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. Vaccine response study in HIV-positive participants will be carried out at two London sites, where appropriate specialists are available.

British public figures have ensured that residents of the country who have been diagnosed with HIV can apply online for a free test kit for COVID-19 antibodies. Australian scientists paused the development of an COVID-19 vaccine because volunteers tested positive for HIV. Later, the results were not confirmed, so they were considered false positive.

As Russian experts later explained, this situation will interfere with the work of scientists, but the drug itself is safe.

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