COVID vaccines provide good protection for people living with HIV

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By Robert Preidt
Health Day reporter

MONDAY Aug 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Vaccination against COVID-19 triggers a strong immune response in people with HIV, which means that they are probably protected against coronavirus, a new small study shows.

“Previous research has suggested a suboptimal response to COVID-19 vaccines at people’s Place living with HIV; however, these studies did not fully characterize and define this response, both for cells [where the immune system directly attacks infected cells] and humorous [where the immune system circulates virus-fighting antibodies] immunity, ”said lead author Dr. Joel Blankson. He is professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“What we found with the widely used Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was quite the opposite, as it induces robust immune responses in people living with HIV, comparable to those seen in healthy people,” he said. he explained in a press release from Hopkins.

For the study, Blankson and his colleagues analyzed blood samples taken from seven HIV-positive women and five men and seven HIV-negative women and 10 men between seven and 17 days after receiving their second dose of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine.

None of the participants had evidence of previous infection with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which causes COVID-19.

All people living with HIV were on antiretroviral therapy and had a median CD4 + T cell count of 913 cells per microliter. The levels of these immune cells in a healthy adult are between 500 and 1,200 cells per microliter, while untreated HIV-infected people may have counts below 200 cells per microliter.

CD4 + T cells are also called helper T cells because they help another type of immune cell called B cells respond to surface proteins (antigens) on viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the researchers explained.

The researchers also checked for the presence and levels of antibodies against the protein making up the spikes that protrude from the surface of the coronavirus in the participants after they were fully vaccinated.

“We found that there was no significant difference in the responses of CD4 + T cells produced by the vaccine or titers [levels] SARS-CoV-2 peak binding antibodies for healthy participants and those living with HIV, ”said Blankson. “This indicates that people living with HIV can be adequately protected against SARS-CoV-2, with proper vaccination. “

The study was published online recently in the journal Clinical infectious diseases.

More research is needed to determine whether people living with HIV who have lower CD4 + T cell counts achieve the same strong cellular and humoral immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines as participants in this study, Blankson said.

More information

HIV.gov has more on COVID-19 and people living with HIV.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, press release, August 11, 2021

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