Many of the COVID-19 vaccines studies have included a small number of people living with HIV in their trials. Despite limited data, available information suggests current WHO recommended COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/BioNtech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson) are safe for people living with HIV. The currently available vaccine products are not live vaccines, they include genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 which cannot replicate. Therefore these vaccines are not expected to be less safe in people who are immunocompromised. In addition to this, no pharmacological interactions have been reported between COVID-19 vaccines and antiretroviral medications which people living with HIV should continue to take after vaccination to maintain health.
Recently, a debate in the scientific literature has led to broader concerns about a potential association observed more than a decade ago between adenovirus vector-based vaccines and an increased risk of acquiring HIV infection among men who received this type of vaccine. This unexpected finding was detected in two HIV vaccine trials that used adenovirus vector containing products,. The reason for this observed HIV risk remains uncertain, although several follow-up studies have suggested a possible interference in the HIV specific vaccine response or in the CD4 cell susceptibility to HIV infection induced by this kind of vaccine,. However, a third study using another adenovirus vector-based vaccine, conducted more recently has not reported this finding. Specific studies on this topic with COVID-19 vaccines are needed. Despite these potential concerns, it is important to highlight that the benefits of all authorized COVID-19 vaccines in a pandemic context currently outweigh the potential risks. WHO will continue to monitor the situation as new data become available and SAGE recommendations will be updated accordingly.