HIV Aids

An HIV Doctor Offers the Latest Science-Backed Advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The U.S. is covered in coronavirus coverage. We’re blanketed by it; we’re marinating in it. As the virus itself blindly plows its way through humanity—faster in some places, slower in others, depending on the week—we’re being deluged with a dizzying amount of news, opinions, politics, and advice from hundreds of different sources.

It’s hard sometimes to tease out the facts from the lies, and it’s even harder to keep up with the latest research and science. This would all be true even if we didn’t live during a time when science itself is being questioned by too many prominent leaders, but that only makes the problem worse. And if, on top of all of that, you’re trying to tease out what really matters if you’re living with HIV? It’s a lot to handle.

At TheBody (and on our sibling site for HIV care providers, TheBodyPro), we’ve been painfully aware of how challenging it is to follow coronavirus news without being overwhelmed, and at how much more difficult it is to find the HIV-specific needles in that massive haystack. We’ve done our best to follow the stories that matter and to compile the most important info you need to know. And we’ve been in constant contact with top experts in HIV to ensure we can separate fact from rumor.

One of those top HIV experts is David Malebranche, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. A longtime HIV doctor, internal medicine specialist, and researcher, he’s also one of the faces of Greater Than AIDS’ excellent #AskTheHIVDoc video series. He’s also a public health advocate, going beyond the stethoscope to fight for better support of and empowerment for underserved communities, particularly Black same gender-loving men.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been talking with Malebranche about some of the most important and practical things for people living with HIV to keep in mind. Most of his guidance is incorporated into our “no-BS basics” article on HIV and COVID-19. He’s also been recording videos from his socially distanced location, which we’ll archive on this page as a reference.

Malebranche’s most recent video, which we posted on May 15, answers three major questions using the most recent available science:

  • Does living with HIV increase the risk of getting COVID-19 or dying from it?
  • Can HIV medications treat COVID-19?
  • How will the coronavirus change the way people with HIV get their health care in the coming months?

Earlier in the pandemic, on March 30, Malebranche recorded a video answering several questions sent in by our readers, including:

  • Will a person’s HIV meds protect them from COVID-19?
  • Are people living with HIV considered to be immunocompromised even if their viral load is undetectable?
  • If a person’s T-cell (CD4) count is low, does that put them at more risk for COVID-19?
  • What can a person living with HIV do to increase their CD4 count and keep their immune system healthy?

In his initial video on HIV and the new coronavirus, Malebranche covered the basics as we understood them as of March 9, including:

  • What is the new coronavirus, and what’s the difference between the coronavirus itself and COVID-19?
  • How does a person get the new coronavirus?
  • How can I prevent being infected with the new coronavirus?
  • Where can I get tested for the new coronavirus?
  • What do people with HIV in particular need to know about the new coronavirus?
  • Can the HIV medication Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) or other meds work against COVID-19?
  • Can the new coronavirus potentially be transmitted through anal sex?

We’ll keep talking with Malebranche and posting new Q&A videos for as long as the new coronavirus remains a crisis in the U.S. If you have any questions you’d like to see answered in a future video, please send them our way—and also let us know if there are other stories you’d like us to see cover, whether they’re about COVID-19 or anything else. We’re eager to help.

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