49 HIV patients in Karnataka contracted Covid, 5 died

49 HIV patients in Karnataka contracted Covid-19, 5 died

Those on regular ART treatment respond well, say doctors

Representative Image. Credit: File Photo

While people with various kinds of comorbid conditions contracted Covid-19, the plight of those with HIV was less talked about during the pandemic.

Prior to December 1, marked as World AIDS Day, data accessed by DH revealed that 49 people with HIV were affected with Covid-19 and five of them have died.

Doctors said HIV patients regularly taking antiretroviral therapy or ART will have as good a chance of survival as those who are HIV negative.

ASHA Foundation, an NGO catering to HIV patients, said 12 of its patients contracted Covid and two have died. Doctors recommend periodic CD4 checks and multivitamins for HIV patients in addition to ART.

A normal CD4 count ranges from 500–1,200 cells/mm3 in adults. A low CD4 count would indicate that the individual’s immune system has been affected by HIV.

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Dr Ravi Kumar D N, Regional Programme Officer (Care, Support and Treatment), Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society, said one lakh patients are on ART in the state.

“We can’t know their Covid status unless they inform us,” he said. “Out of them, 49 tested positive for Covid-19 and five have died. Nearly 30,000 patients couldn’t be followed up for ART treatment. Till October, there have been 80,000 deaths. It was 79,863 six months ago and the rise isn’t significant compared to the pre-pandemic period.”

Dr Glory Alexander, director, ASHA Foundation, said patients taking ART and with a good CD4 count respond well to Covid. “Twelve of our patients contracted Covid and two died,” she said.

One of the patients was a 48-year-old who came late and had hypoxia. He was admitted to hospital for three weeks and died. The second was a 55-year-old who had a discordant response. “He was my patient for 20 years and his CD4 count was always on the lower side. The other 10 patients aged between 25 and 65 fared well,” Dr Glory said.