Early Research Finds HIV Medication Could Protect Against COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world and infect many people, medical experts are continually finding ways to treat the virus. A new study suggests that a common HIV medication may also provide protection against a COVID infection (via HealthDay). The researchers discovered that people who were being treated for HIV with antiretroviral treatment (ART) with protease inhibitors had a lower risk of being infected with COVID-19. Protease inhibitors work by blocking an enzyme that viruses need to further infect the body.

"Protease inhibitor drugs have a long history of use, a good safety profile, and are generally well-tolerated. By attacking the virus before it has a chance to multiply, they potentially offer an opportunity to prevent the spread of infections and mutation of future variants," said study author Dr. Steve Nguala who works at the Intercommunal Hospital Center of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and the General Hospital of Melun, France. Although this study shows promise for future treatments of COVID-19, more studies are needed on the topic.

What to know about HIV

According to the CDC, human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a virus that attacks cells in the body that help it fight infections. People with this condition are at a higher risk of getting infections or diseases than people without the virus. HIV is typically spread through sexual contact, but it can also be transferred from a mother to a child during childbirth, pregnancy, or while breastfeeding (via Mayo Clinic). There is currently no cure for HIV, but some treatments are able to help people manage the condition.

Human immunodeficiency virus is often treated with antiretroviral therapy, or ART. This treatment option reduces the amount of the virus in the blood and lowers the risk of transmitting it to others (via CDC). When left untreated, HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. This is the most severe stage of HIV. People with AIDS suffer from a severely damaged immune system and often live for about three years without treatment. The only way to know for sure that you have HIV is to get tested.