a crowd of people wearing medical masks

Coronavirus and HIV - Should We Be Concerned?

With the spread of coronavirus (technically known as 2019-nCoV) dominating the news, many of us are likely wondering if we should be concerned and what steps we should be taking. Some reports have seemingly connected HIV with coronavirus.

The resulting hype stoked fears out of ignorance, as so often happens when a new viral epidemic comes on the scene. For evidence of that, think of the early misconceptions and fears when AIDS and HIV first appeared. But should we be especially worried about a link due to our status?

Is there a link between HIV and coronavirus?

One debunked article that suggests a DNA link

Two developments, in particular, seemed by some to suggest a link between the two diseases. First, an article appeared online which was not properly vetted and suggested a DNA link between the two. The article was soon pulled when the reasoning was refuted and debunked. But the idea was out there nonetheless.

Testing the use of HIV medications to treat COVID-19

A second thing pointing to a supposed link is the fact that HIV drugs are being used in some areas to fight the virus. For example, the drug Kaletra (ritonavir and lopinavir) is being tested in various countries to fight the disease. But this is not the first time or first disease in which HIV drugs have been used to treat unrelated illnesses.

The same medication has also been used against Ebola and SARS. One scientist indicated that when no cure is known to exist the course of action is to “cast a pretty wide net” looking for something that may work. For further information, see To Fight Coronavirus Outbreak, Doctors Deploy Drugs Targeting HIV, Malaria, and Ebola.

Practical precautions against the coronavirus

Keep your persceptive

To put things in perspective, this year the flu is much more of a threat and has killed more people here in the USA than coronavirus has in the entire world. Lesson? The wise course of action is to take the normally recommended precautions:

  • Get a flu shot
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cover your mouth when you cough (better yet cough into your elbow)

Addtional tips on taking precaution

I’m somewhat of a germaphobe so I personally try to avoid shaking hands except when professionally necessary and keep a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer at my desk. I also use disinfectant wipes on the door handles, phones and any place in my office that clients touch.

Another good practice: take disinfectant wipes when you fly! Wipe down the armrests, tray table, light switches, and ventilation ducts as soon as you sit. If you research the stats about the germs on a plane, it will almost make you swear off flying altogether. Don’t worry when co-workers or others tease you or look at you funny; they should be doing the same!

In short, while we should take all precautions, we should not panic. Statistically, we have a greater chance of contracting flu or getting in an auto accident. Now doesn’t that make you feel better?

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