HIV and COVID-19: Intersecting Epidemics With Many Unknowns

Catherine R. Lesko; Angela M. Bengtson


Am J Epidemiol. 2021;190(1):10-16. 

In This Article


The COVID-19 pandemic will affect the health and health care of all people. PLWH are likely to be uniquely vulnerable to both the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic. Some as-yet unanswered research questions of interest for PLWH in the United States include: Should PLWH be monitored more closely for COVID-19? Does HIV infection affect the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection or affect the risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes among people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2? What are the impacts of physical distancing measures on PLWH, particularly as related to their engagement in HIV care, substance use and mental health outcomes, and other structural influences on health outcomes? A robust research infrastructure around HIV provides many opportunities to answer some of these outstanding questions, as long as we adhere to good epidemiologic principles with regard to asking well-defined questions. Leveraging these opportunities to inform public health practice requires that the specific research question being addressed is clearly stated and that appropriate analyses for answering that questions are applied.