Infocenter HIV & Covid-19

You can find the most important information about HIV and Corona on this page. Due to the current situation, we have also adjusted our opening and testing times. 

Everything about Corona vaccination and HIV

Die Aids Hilfe Wien und die Österreichische Aidsgesellschaft informieren.

Häufige Fragen zur Covid-19 Impfung

  • Should you get vaccinated against COVID-19?

    Yes, the pathogen SARS-CoV-2 is very contagious and the Covid-19 disease can lead to prolonged, severe and fatal courses in all age groups. In addition, some of those who contract the disease are left with physical or psychological sequelae or symptoms. Only if a large proportion of people are vaccinated can we end the pandemic and return to a life of close contact with others.

    Natürlich ist eine Impfung ein medizinischer Eingriff, und wie bei allen Eingriffen muss man Nutzen und Schaden abwägen. Grundsätzlich aber gilt: Der Nutzen der Impfung ist hoch, denn sie senkt das Risiko einer Covid-19-Erkrankung um über 60 bis zu 95 Prozent.

    The side effects known so far, for example

    • Pain at the injection site,
    • Fatigue,
    • Headache or muscle pain

    are low. Very rarely, strong allergic reactions occur; allergy sufferers should inform the vaccinating doctor about allergies. Only a few people will be advised against vaccination for medical reasons.

  • How many vaccinations are needed?

    With both m-RNA vaccines (BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna) as well as with the vaccine from AstraZeneca, a second dose is needed after the first vaccination: with BioNTech three weeks and with Moderna and AstraZeneca four weeks after the first vaccination. The full protective effect of these three vaccines is only achieved after the second vaccination, even though a clear protective effect is already visible one week after the first vaccination. The fourth vaccine approved by the EMA from Johnson&Johnson requires only one vaccination and is to be used in Austria in the second quarter of 2021.

  • What are the possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination?

    Die bisher bekannten Nebenwirkungen (zum Beispiel Schmerzen an der Einstichstelle, Abgeschlagenheit, Kopf- oder Muskelschmerzen) sind gering. Sehr selten kommt es offenbar zu starken allergischen Reaktionen; Allergiker*innen sollten die impfenden Ärzt*innen über Allergien informieren. Zu Astra Zeneca hat das Österreichische Impfgremium folgende Information herausgegeben: Astra Zeneca 

  • How do the vaccines work?

    The first two vaccines on the European market (from BioNTech/Pfizer and from Moderna) are m-RNA vaccines. The "m" stands for messenger, RNA for ribonucleic acid. Messenger RNA is, so to speak, the "blueprint" for RNA genetic material, i.e. it is not part of the actual genetic material. It is only found in the cell plasma, not in the cell nucleus, and is rapidly degraded. The m-RNA in the vaccines transports information for the genetic material of the covid 19 pathogen SARS-CoV-2 into the "protein factories" of the human cells (ribosomes). There, new virus proteins are then created.
    When infected with SARS-CoV-2, all the proteins for new viruses are created in the human ribosomes. In the two m-RNA vaccines, the ribosomes only produce the characteristic "spike" protein of the virus. It is not enough to make new viruses, but it triggers a defence reaction in the body: The immune system forms antibodies and "arms" its defence cells.

    When infected with SARS-CoV-2, the human ribosomes produce all the proteins for new viruses. In the two m-RNA vaccines, the ribosomes only produce the characteristic "spike" protein of the virus. It is not enough to make new viruses, but it triggers a defence reaction in the body: The immune system forms antibodies and "arms" its defence cells.

    The other two approved vaccines from Astra-Zeneca and Johnson&Johnson are so-called vector vaccines. Here, a modified, harmless adenovirus carries the genetic information for the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into the cell and thus triggers an immune reaction.

  • Are more side effects to be expected from COVID-19 vaccination in people with HIV?

    Are more side effects to be expected from vaccination in people with HIV?
    So far, there is hardly any data on individual groups of vaccinated people. However, it is not to be expected that people with HIV react differently to the m-RNA vaccines than HIV-negative people.

  • Can and should people with HIV get vaccinated against Covid-19?

    In principle, people with chronic diseases in particular should be vaccinated against infectious diseases that put additional strain on their health. There is no reason why this should be different for vaccination against Covid-19.
    In people with HIV and well-functioning HIV therapy, vaccination against Covid-19 works quite normally.
    In people with HIV and well-functioning HIV therapy, vaccination against Covid-19 works normally.

    In people with HIV with less than 200 helper cells/µl, however, vaccinations are less effective according to previous experience, i.e. the vaccination success is not as good for them. They should consult their HIV specialist practice.

  • Are people with HIV particularly at risk from COVID-19 disease?

    There are contradictory data on the question of whether HIV infection has a negative effect on the course of covid-19 disease. In people with well-treated HIV infection, there seems to be no difference, or at least not much, compared to HIV-negative people.

    However, people with HIV often have additional risk factors, for example diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease or kidney disease. Then - as with HIV-negative people with such risk factors - the risk of a severe course would be increased.

    The risk is also likely to be increased with low helper cell counts, for example in undiagnosed and advanced HIV infection, as well as in other people with severely weakened immune systems.

  • Can I get infected with SARS-COV-2 despite vaccination?

    The main purpose of the trials is to prove that the vaccines prevent severe courses of covid 19. To find out whether they also prevent infections, the volunteers would have had to have their throats swabbed weekly.
    However, it is assumed that a vaccination not only protects against a severe course of the disease, but also protects the people in contact with the vaccinated person better. However, we will only know exactly when there are more studies on this.

  • How long does the protective effect of the vaccination last?

    This question can only be answered when a little more time has passed. It is hoped that the protection will last at least one to two years.

  • Are there any interactions with HIV medicines?

    Currently, there are no known interactions between vaccination and HIV medication. However, a lower CD4 count can lead to a reduced formation of antibodies that protect against COVID-19. However, vaccination is recommended even with a low CD4 count. 

  • Ist eine COVID19 Immunisierung Voraussetzung für eine Neueinstellung bei der Aids Hilfe Wien?

    Ja! Die Aids Hilfe Wien sieht sich als Gesundheitsdienstleisterin im Kontext der Wiener Gesundheits- und Sozialeinrichtungen und ist sich der hohen Verantwortung gegenüber ihren Klient*innen und Mitarbeiter*innen im Hinblick auf einen ausreichenden Schutz gegen eine COVID19 Infektion bewusst.  Um unseren Schutzpflichten nachzukommen, setzen wir daher eine COVID19 Impfung bzw. die Bereitschaft zur Impfung für alle neu eintretenden Mitarbeiter*innen, das heißt bei einer Neueinstellung, voraus. Bei Bewerbungen ist daher der Impfschutz bzw. die Immunität mittels ärztlichem Attest nachzuweisen bzw. muss die Bereitschaft zur Impfung gegeben sein.

  • We would like to thank Deutsche Aidshilfe for providing the basis for this information. Deutschen Aidshilfe for providing the basis for this information.

    More Information

    Initiative Österreich Impft

    Information on the vaccination plan of the Ministry of Social Affairs

    Informationen zum Impfplan und Anmeldung stadt Wien

    Information on the vaccination schedule and registration in Lower Austria

    Information on the vaccination schedule and registration in Burgenland:

    Allgemeine Informationen zu HIV & Covid-19

    Frequently asked questions

  • What is the difference between Corona, SARS-CoV-2, 19-nCoV and COVID-19?

    "Corona" is a family of viruses that includes several viruses. There are currently 7 different Corona viruses known in humans. The current Corona virus was first called 19-nCoV and then received the official name SARS-CoV2.

    The disease caused by SARS-CoV2 infection is called COVID-19.

  • What protective measures help against SARS-CoV-2?

    Protective measures include thorough hand hygiene, avoiding contact of the hands with the face, no open sneezing or coughing (but in the crook of the arm or in a disposable handkerchief), 2m distance to (potentially) infected persons, basically reducing social contacts to an absolute minimum and thus also avoiding gatherings of many people.

    Above all, "social distancing" should be taken very seriously.

  • What protective measures apply to HIV-positive people?

    In principle, exactly the same protective measures apply to HIV-positive people as to all other people!

    Um den Besuch einer Ordination, Ambulanz oder Beratungseinrichtung eventuell zu vermeiden, wird es sinnvoll sein, die jeweiligen HIV-Ärzt*innen oder Betreuer*innen im Vorfeld zu kontaktieren. Eventuell ist zum aktuellen Zeitpunkt ein persönlicher Besuch nicht notwendig, oder andere Varianten (z.B. telefonische Beratung, postalische Wege, Kontakt per Mail etc.) sind eine Option. So können Aufenthalte in Räumlichkeiten, in denen sich viele Menschen aufhalten, zusätzlich vermieden werden.

  • What is the risk of a severe course of COVID-19?

    So far, the most statements have come from China (due to the high number of cases). Here, about 80% of the illnesses were mild to moderate. Among the remaining patients, about 6% developed a critical to life-threatening course.
    Older people and people with certain pre-existing conditions have a higher risk of a more severe course of COVID-19. These include heart disease, lung problems (e.g. bronchitis, asthma, COPD), diabetes, cancer, chronic liver disease or a weakened immune system.

  • Is there an increased risk of a more severe course of COVID-19 in HIV-positive people?

    At present, there are no indications or statements that HIV infection generally increases the risk for a more severe course of COVID-19.

    In Austria, too, almost all HIV-positive people have a stable immune system thanks to HIV therapy and thus do not automatically belong to the risk group mentioned above.

    HIV-positive people with comorbidities (other pre-existing conditions) have an increased risk due to these (and regardless of HIV therapy) and should - like all HIV-negative people with pre-existing conditions - absolutely comply with all available protective measures!

  • What is there to consider for the supply of HIV medication?

    In order to ensure the continuous intake of HIV therapy, it is important (as on a trip) to have sufficient medication with you. E.g. in case of quarantine for at least two weeks.

    Es ist daher wichtig, frühzeitig daran zu denken, neue Rezepte und Medikamente zu organisieren. Es ist sinnvoll, die behandelnden Ärzt*innen vorab zu kontaktieren, um eventuell gemeinsam eine Lösung zu finden bzw. einen zusätzlichen Besuch in Ambulanz oder Ordination zu vermeiden.

    Derzeit gibt es keinerlei Informationen oder konkreten Verdachtsmomente, die darauf schließen lassen, dass es zu Engpässen in der Versorgung mit HIV-Medikamenten in Österreich kommen könnte.

  • Do HIV drugs help against SARS-CoV-2?

    There are attempts to use individual HIV drugs against SARS-CoV2. The background is that both viruses use a similar enzyme (protease). Therefore, the active substances lopinavir and ritonavir, for example, are being tested against SARS-CoV2, as these inhibit the protease in HIV. Concrete data and information, or real treatment options, are not yet available.

    Under no circumstances should reports of this kind lead to the conclusion that taking HIV therapy has a protective effect against infection with SARS-CoV2.

    Only the currently known measures offer protection against infection or protect other people in the environment.

  • Are HIV-positive people automatically in the risk group?

    Currently, many people in Austria are receiving an information letter from the umbrella organisation of the social insurance funds that they may be at higher risk for a severe COVID-19 course and would like to contact their treating doctors for a confirmation ("COVID-19 risk test"). In addition to people with other chronic illnesses, people with HIV infection also receive this letter.

    The Österreihische AIDS Gesellschaft, together with Aids Hilfe Wien, would like to point out that this letter should not be regarded as an individual risk diagnosis. There are currently no indications that an HIV infection generally increases the risk of a severe course of COVID-19.

    According to current knowledge, experts agree that this is true at least for a successfully treated HIV infection. Previously published observations of HIV-positive COVID-19 patients do not suggest an increased risk of a severe course due to the HIV infection. This also applies to almost all HIV-positive people in Austria who know their HIV status and are in medical care.

    A CD4 cell count below 200/µl and an untreated HIV infection, on the other hand, are considered potential risk factors by international professional societies. However, no data are available on the actual influence of these factors on COVID-19 progression.

    The risk is primarily subject to other parameters, such as age or existing comorbidities. The risk assessment for HIV-positive people can therefore only be made individually by the treating doctors. Receiving the letter from the umbrella organisation does not automatically mean that you belong to the risk group.

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