Does Covid-19 Pose a Larger Threat for These Residing with HIV-AIDS?

A year after the Coronavirus pandemic wrecked our collective lives, our society has been grappling with fear and insecurity. As a result, we have seen misinformation spread like wildfire, and many resorting to bizarre and incorrect methods of dealing with the virus. With this column, which will be published every Sunday, we aim to address any health or vaccine-related question our readers might have about the coronavirus pandemic.

In this week’s column, the queries have been answered by Dr Himanshu Reddy, from the Department of Internal Medicine and In charge of the COVID unit at King George Medical College, Lucknow. Dr Reddy talks about the new COVID-19 strain and explains the impact of the virus on children, and those living with HIV.

The new strains of COVID-19 have very different symptoms. Why are the symptoms different? How quickly can the problems inflicted by new strains escalate?

The new variants are supposed to be more virulent, that is they may spread faster but do not appear to be any more lethal. There have been reports of some atypical symptoms in the new variants. Increased body and joint pains and discoloration of fingers have been noted. Marked weakness has also been noted but that was also seen with the novel Covid 19 too. Some of them are also having conjunctivitis and uveitis. Having said that, even in the old strain we saw many such symptoms, but the variation is mainly in the percentage of the symptoms.

Are children more prone to be affected by the new strains of COVID-19?

The new strains do not appear to have any greater effect on children when compared with the old strain. Children as a whole have done much better in this pandemic. Yet, close monitoring and safety protocols should be followed in children as once can never know how the new strains might behave.

Is it safe to take the COVID-19 vaccine if someone has penicillin or any other kind of allergy?

Any patient having a history of severe allergic reaction requiring hospital-based management should avoid the vaccine. When we say severe, we basically mean having anaphylactic shock or angioneurotic edema. If someone has had such reactions requiring hospital admission or hospital-based management then it is better to avoid the vaccine.

Can COVID-19 impact eye function, vision field?

Covid can cause conjunctivitis and chemosis. Mostly it affects the anterior (front) part of the eye. It can lead to tearing and redness. Overall complete loss of vision is usually not reported and visual acuity tends to improve in most.

Are those living with HIV at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus?

HIV patients who are controlled on medications with suppressed virus will have a risk similar to general population but those who are in advanced HIV disease with low CD4 counts, that is low immunity will have higher risk of the disease.

Can COVID-19 impact women’s fertility?

COVID does not have a major implication on women’s fertility. During the acute phase with immune activation, there may be a transient decrease in fertility in both men and women, but it tends to improve after the immune activation subsides.

Do you have questions about Coronavirus? Or the vaccines? Send us your questions: Tweet with #AskADoctor. Every week, we will have a public health expert to address your concerns through this column

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