What You Need to Know About COVID Shots and HIV

COVID-19 misinformation runs wild on social media. Some people have been spreading a myth that COVID-19 boosters cause HIV.

COVID-19 misinformation runs wild on social media. Some people have been spreading a myth that COVID-19 boosters cause HIV.

According to a 2022 Reuters article, some people are sharing a quote they claim came from Dr. Luc Montagnier, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, known for his role in the discovery of HIV.

“For those of you that have taken the third dose, go and take a test for AIDS. The results may surprise you. Then sue your government.”

There’s no evidence that Dr. Montagnier has ever said this. There’s also no possible scientific mechanism where a COVID-19 vaccine could cause HIV unless a syringe had previously been used on a person with HIV. All syringes used by medical professionals for COVID-19 vaccination in the United States are single-use.

Keep reading to learn more about why COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause HIV and why it’s important for people with HIV to be fully vaccinated.

Almost 600 million vaccine doses, including 106.3 million first booster doses, have been administered in the United States. Researchers have found no association between COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States and the risk of HIV infection.

Furthermore, outside of syringe contamination, there’s no scientific mechanism where COVID-19 vaccines could cause HIV. A viral infection causes HIV. The only way to get HIV is to be exposed to the virus.

Unprotected anal or vaginal sex and sharing drug injection equipment are the most common methods of HIV transmission.Sputnik V and Convidecia

Neither the Sputnik V nor Convidecia vaccines are approved for use in the United States. But the Convidecia vaccine has been granted emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO).

These viruses are viral vector vaccines. That means researchers hide instructions for your immune system on how to defend against COVID-19 inside the shell of a virus that doesn’t cause disease in humans. These two vaccines use a viral vector called adenovirus vectors of human serotype 5 (HAdV-5).

Some researchers have raised concerns that HAdV-5 vaccines could increase susceptibility to HIV infection. The concerns arise from a 2007 to 2008 AIDS vaccine clinical trial that showed a slight but significant increased risk of HIV infection among uncircumcised men at high risk of exposure to HIV.

Later HIV vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine trials did not find an increased risk of HIV infection following the use of HAdV vector vaccines. At present, no evidence suggests any COVID-19 vaccines increase susceptibility to HIV infection.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with HIV, and there’s no evidence that they interfere with HIV treatment or increase the risk of any health problems.

In theory, people with HIV who have low CD4 counts may have a weaker immune response to vaccines. However, according to the WHO, there’s no evidence to suggest that this is the case.

Researchers are continuing to examine how people with HIV respond to vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines are highly recommended for everybody, including people with HIV, regardless of CD4 count. Most people only have mild or no side effects after vaccination.

Three types of vaccines are approved for use in the United States: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are called mRNA vaccines. They contain a small amount of genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. This genetic information gives your immune system instructions on how to make a protein unique to the SARS-CoV-2 virus so that it can build a defense against it.

The most common side effects of these vaccines are mild symptoms such as:

Although rare, there have been reports of potentially serious side effects such as myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA vaccination. Myocarditis is inflammation of your heart muscle. Pericarditis is inflammation of the lining of your heart.

Myocarditis and pericarditis most often occur:

  • within a week of vaccination
  • more often after the second dose
  • in male adolescents or young adults

Heart conditions are rare after vaccination, and research has found the risk of developing them is substantially higher after COVID-19 infection. Johnson & Johnson Janssen

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a vector vaccine, meaning that it contains a modified virus. This modified virus contains the genetic information of the virus that causes COVID-19 inside the shell of an adenovirus.

The most common side effects of this vaccine are mild and similar to those of mRNA vaccines. There is a plausible relationship between this vaccine and a serious type of blood clot called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). It occurs at a rate of 3.83 per million vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everybody over the age of 5, including people with HIV, get a booster dose if they’re eligible.

They also recommend that adults over the age of 50 and some people over 12 who are moderate to severely immunosuppressed get a second booster at least 4 months after their first booster. This category includes people with advanced or untreated HIV.

Nearly half of people diagnosed with HIV are over the age of 50, and people with HIV also have higher rates of underlying health conditions that may weaken their immune systems. People vulnerable to infection need to be vaccinated.

The CDC currently does not recommend an additional primary shot of a COVID-19 vaccine for people with HIV who are virally suppressed without advanced HIV. Researchers continue to examine if people with HIV may benefit from an additional dose.

A June 2022 study of 113,994 people found that the risk of COVID-19 breakout infection was 28% higher in vaccinated people with HIV versus those without HIV. A breakout infection is when you get the disease despite being vaccinated. The researchers concluded that expanding the recommendation for an additional dose in people with HIV should be considered.

In a February 2022 study, researchers found that people with well-controlled viral loads and CD4 counts in a healthy range generally have a strong immune response to two vaccines.

There’s no possible mechanism where a COVID-19 vaccine could cause HIV. Researchers also have not found any evidence that COVID-19 vaccines increase your susceptibility to contracting HIV.

People with HIV or other conditions that weaken their immune system are at an elevated risk of developing COVID-19 or severe illness. If you or your loved one has HIV, receiving your recommended COVID-19 vaccines is particularly important.

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