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For HIV Providers


The following is a message from Oni Blackstock, MD, MHS Assistant Commissioner Bureau of HIV, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Charles Gonzalez, MD Medical Director AIDS Institute New York State Department of Health.

The New York City Health Department and the New York State Department of Health have received questions from HIV care providers about whether there are any specific concerns for people with HIV related to the growing outbreak of novel coronavirus and COVID-19 respiratory disease.

At this moment, people with HIV should follow the same guidance as the general population, and do not need to take additional precautions. Please see New York City’s guidance for health care providers and the public, and New York State’s guidance for providers and the public.

To date, the main risk factors for severe COVID-19 are older age and co-morbidities including cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory, or cardiovascular disease. HIV infection has not specifically been identified as a risk factor, but would be included when guidance refers generally to immune-compromised individuals.

Providers and the public should follow the latest CDC guidancePeople who had contact with a person with COVID-19 or travelled to an affected area and, in the following 14 days, experience fever, cough, or shortness of breath should call their medical provider. Other people who experience mild illness should stay home. Providers should consider evaluating patients with fever and lower respiratory illness that requires hospitalization for possible COVID-19. Follow updated CDC guidance on who should be evaluated for COVID-19.

Clinics and providers can take steps to prepare for a wider outbreak. Clinics should be preparing to be able to both respond to a wider coronavirus public health emergency and to maintain their capacity to provide HIV care and treatment. This includes establishing a plan for telemedicine1 or other mechanisms for providing patient care remotely. Providers should continue to support patients with HIV to achieve and maintain viral suppression; ensure that patients have received recommended influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations; talk to patients about maintaining their supply of medications; and encourage them to maintain social networks remotely.

The coronavirus outbreak is rapidly evolving. Our health departments will share any updates to specific guidance for people living with HIV.

1. See Medicaid billing rules for telehealth services.

You can also download a PDF of this letter, here.