Patients living with autoimmune disorders, including HIV and AIDS, are particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you become infected, your compromised immune system will have a difficult time fighting the virus, leading to an increased risk of severe symptoms and complications during treatment. If you fail to take the proper precautions, you may even be putting your life at risk.
Dr. Rosen and the team at Recovery Care want to empower our immunocompromised patients with the knowledge to protect themselves effectively in the face of COVID-19. Below is a list of four essential practices for keeping yourself safe:
Stay In Whenever Possible
As researchers are still working to develop a vaccine, there is currently no cure for COVID-19, putting those who are immunocompromised at great risk for severe complications should they need to let the virus take its course. With this in mind, the best way to protect yourself is to stay at home as much as possible to avoid contact with those who might be carrying the disease. Fortunately, resources such as online ordering and delivery services have risen to the occasion, and many of your everyday needs can be met without leaving the house.
Use Personal Protective Gear
Whether it’s working, essential shopping, or traveling to an appointment with your healthcare provider, it’s vital to follow CDC recommendations and wear a mask in the event that you cannot avoid going out in public. Some states, including Maryland and Pennsylvania, have even made face coverings mandatory when entering a public space. While it may feel strange to cover your face, the discomfort is worth it: even a non-surgical mask can drastically reduce the amount of particles you release as you breathe, stopping COVID-19’s main transport method in its tracks. As a high-risk individual, you may even consider taking extra precautions with additional personal protective equipment (PPE). Gloves aren’t always necessary, but they can be helpful if you’re frequently touching the same surfaces as other people. If you do choose to wear gloves, be sure to use proper removal techniques and refresh them often to keep them sterile.
Communicate Your Needs
Although it may feel dramatic, it’s a simple fact that the stakes are life and death when it comes to immunocompromised patients being infected with COVID-19. With this in mind, it’s more important now than ever to advocate for yourself if you believe you are being put at risk. It is never rude or inappropriate to inform someone who is providing you a service that you are immunocompromised, and that you require extra caution and appropriate accommodations. This will not only protect you, but may help initiate practices that protect others like you in the future.
Play it Safe With Your Doctor
While you don’t need to be anxious or fearful, it is important to be vigilant and proactive about any symptoms you think could be COVID-19. The sooner you call your primary care doctor and receive treatment, the less likely you are to suffer from serious complications. To learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19, visit the Coronavirus FAQ page on our website.
Additionally, it’s essential for those living with HIV and AIDS to maintain their routine treatment, especially throughout the pandemic. Within that group, the patients most vulnerable to complications are those with a low CD4 cell count and those who are not receiving treatment at all. In partnership with your doctor, you can manage your illness and protect yourself in the process.
At Recovery Care, we are proud to provide compassionate primary care to those living with HIV and AIDS. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, whether to be tested or to develop a treatment plan that works for you.