People living with HIV have a higher risk of breakthrough Covid-19 infection after vaccination

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  • The study investigated how living with HIV affected Covid-19 breakthrough infection in vaccinated people.
  • People living with HIV had a higher chance of breakthrough Covid-19 infections.
  • Researchers recommend that people living with HIV get booster shots regardless of viral load.


A new study has found a higher rate and risk of Covid-19 infection in fully vaccinated people with HIV.

The study published in JAMA Network Open compared breakthrough infection rates in vaccinated people living with HIV with people without HIV.

The research enrolled 113 994 fully vaccinated people in the US, of whom 33 029 were HIV positive, and 80 965 had negative status. The participants were defined as fully vaccinated if they had taken two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single J&J shot. The study ended on 31 December 2021.

Consistently higher breakthrough rate

The study found that people living with HIV had an increased risk of breakthrough Covid-19 infections compared to those without HIV. The results show a 28% increased risk of breakthrough Covid-19 infections in those with HIV compared to people without HIV.

“There was a consistently higher rate of breakthrough infections among people with HIV (compared with people without HIV), suggesting a higher risk of breakthroughs in people with HIV after adjustment for demographic and clinical factors and vaccine type. Breakthrough cumulative incidence was higher in people with HIV (vs people without HIV) irrespective of CD4 count of viral suppression,” the study notes.

The results suggest that people living with HIV should get booster shots to increase their immunity to Covid-19.

“Receipt of any vaccine dose after primary series conferred further protection against breakthrough infection among people with HIV, exhibiting the importance of boosters and additional primary doses,” the study states.

READ | Asymptomatic Covid-19 can also cause pregnancy risks, study finds

READ | Covid-19 conspiracy theories linked to depression

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