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Questioning the “Ease” in disease: Was living with HIV a burden or boost during the first wave of Covid-19 in France? A qualitative study (COVIDHIV)

Roucoux, G., Thonon, F., Zucman, D. , Rey, D., Abgrall, S., Eriksson, L. E. ORCID: 0000-0001-5121-5325, Préau, M., Michels, D., Chéret, A. & Duracinsky, M. (2024). Questioning the “Ease” in disease: Was living with HIV a burden or boost during the first wave of Covid-19 in France? A qualitative study (COVIDHIV). PLoS ONE, 19(3), article number e0295223. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0295223


Clinical research has focused on risk factors and treatment for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2), particularly in people with a comorbidity including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but little attention has been paid to the care pathway. This article aims to show how living with HIV may have been a biopsychosocial burden or boost in care pathways for Covid-19.

People living with HIV (PLHIV) from 9 clinical centers were invited to participate in this qualitative study. The sampling was purposive with a maximum variation in their sociodemographic profiles. Semi-structured interviews were conducted until data saturation, then coded for thematic analysis, using an inductive general approach.

We interviewed 34 PLHIV of which 20 had SARS-COV-2 once. They were 24 males, 26 born in France; median age: 55. Twenty had a CD4 number above 500, and all were on antiretroviral therapy (ART). HIV appeared as a burden when Covid-19 symptoms reminded HIV seroconversion, fear of contamination, and triggered questions about ART effectiveness. HIV was not considered relevant when diagnosing Covid-19, caused fear of disclosure when participants sought SARS-COV-2 testing, and its care in hospitals was disrupted by the pandemic. ART-pill fatigue caused avoidance for Covid-19 treatment. As a boost, living with HIV led participants to observe symptoms, to get advice from healthcare professionals, and screening access through them. Some participants could accept the result of screening or a clinical diagnosis out of resilience. Some could consider ART or another drug prescribed by their HIV specialist help them to recover from Covid-19.

Living with HIV could function as a burden and/or a boost in the care pathways for Covid-19, according to patients’ relationship to their HIV history, comorbidities and representation of ART. Covid-19 in PLHIV needs further qualitative study to gain a more comprehensive assessment of the pandemic’s consequences on their lives and coping strategies.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright: © 2024 Roucoux et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Publisher Keywords: Humans, HIV, HIV Infections, Middle Aged, Male, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 Testing, COVID-19 Drug Treatment
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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