HIV & COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Last updated: March 27

Based on what we know so far about COVID-19 (coronavirus), it is unclear whether people with HIV are more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19 than the general population. Your physician can review your medical record to give you a greater understanding of your personal risk.

Here are answers to some common questions related to HIV and COVID-19. Please note that these answers are subject to change as we receive more information about COVID-19. If you have additional questions not answered here, call your physician or the Northwestern Medicine COVID-19 hotline at 312.47.COVID (312.472.6843).

Frequently Asked Questions

People who have HIV do not appear to be more likely to contract COVID-19, and it remains unclear whether they are more likely to develop severe complications as a result of the infection. With other viral respiratory infections, the risk for serious complications in people with HIV increases if they have a low CD4 cell count and if they are not currently on HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy or ART). People with HIV can also be at increased risk for serious complications from COVID-19 based on their age and other medical conditions.

Keep at least a 30-day supply of your medications and contact your physician if you need refills. To refill your prescription, you can limit exposure to the virus by using a mail-order service or drive-thru pharmacy, or have a caregiver pick up your medication.

Physicians recommend that people with HIV adhere to the recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prioritizing extreme physical distancing and hand hygiene. You should also exercise, eat well, reduce stress and get plenty of sleep.

It is also important to maintain connections with friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ask for help if you need it, and talk to someone you trust if you feel anxious or stressed. Establish a plan for care if you should become ill or have to stay home for 2 weeks.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call your physician for guidance.

If you have been exposed to someone who received a COVID-19 diagnosis, you should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of the virus. If you begin to experience symptoms, call your physician.