Covid-19: AIDS Council urges Govt to ensure those with HIV receive vaccine

PETALING JAYA: The Government should have a plan to prioritise people with health conditions, such as HIV, to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, says the Malaysian AIDS Council.

Its president Datuk Dr Christopher Lee urged the Government to put guidelines in place that allow those with underlying conditions such as HIV to receive the jab.

“The immunisation programme is to ensure that herd immunity is built in the community to break the chain of Covid-19 infections and eventually, end the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is recommended that all persons with HIV be vaccinated irrespective of CD4 count in line with international guidelines. The vaccines are safe in persons with HIV as they are not live vaccines, ” he said in a press statement on Monday (Feb 22).

CD4 count measures the number of T-cells (a type of white blood cell) which fight infection in one’s body.

Lee, who is one of Malaysia’s top infectious disease specialists and a former Health deputy director-general, added that people with HIV should not be discouraged from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Until further evidence shows otherwise, there should not be any discouragement for people living with HIV to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as it has shown that people with underlying medical illnesses including HIV, especially those with advanced HIV infection, may be more susceptible to developing severe diseases if infected, ” he said.

UNAIDS, a global programme to coordinate efforts in combating AIDS, had previously issued guidelines which state that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe for people with HIV.

“None of the vaccine approaches under development or approved by regulators use live vaccines and so they should be just as safe in people with damaged immune systems, such as some people living with HIV who are not virally suppressed.

“There is no reason to expect that mild or more severe reactions occur at higher levels among people living with HIV, ” it said.

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