US study examines how COVID-19 affects HIV patients

Physicians are seeking to better understand how COVID-19 affects people with HIV through a new national research effort, according to STAT.

The study is examining clinical data on HIV patients with COVID-19 treated at eight health systems designated as a Center for AIDS Research centers nationwide. Together, the organizations form a national research network funded by the National Institutes of Health that houses data on more than 35,000 patients.

While HIV can weaken the body’s ability to fight off infections, it's still unclear how COVID-19 affects this patient population.

"When patients ask what is happening with people with HIV and COVID, I've had to be honest and say I just don't know," Adrienne Shapiro, MD, PhD, an infectious diseases specialist at Seattle-based University of Washington, told STAT. "We as clinicians have been flying blind in this pandemic."

Dr. Shapiro is leading the national study with researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the University of California San Diego. They seek to learn whether HIV patients are at a higher risk for complications or death if they contract COVID-19. Researchers are also investigating whether HIV patients are more likely to be symptomatic.

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