News » AIDS

New Study Reveals COVID Disparities Among Those Living with HIV

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday February 5, 2021

A new study reveals the impact of COVID-19 on people living with HIV.

The study, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, found that people with an HIV diagnosis in the state of New York "were more likely to receive a diagnosis of, be hospitalized with, and die in-hospital with COVID-19 compared with those not living with an HIV diagnosis."

The study looked at cases throughout the state between March 1 and June 15, 2020. Both HIV negative and positive subjects were studied, with the latter group having been diagnosed through December 31, 2019. All cases of COVID-19 diagnoses were confirmed by laboratory testing.

HRC's analysis of the data suggests a similar impact on transgender people. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has called for further data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity to expand knowledge about the health disparities between sexual and gender minorities and heterosexual people.

Alphonso David, President of HRC, issued a statement, saying:

"This report affirms what LGBTQ advocates and organizations have known all along: that our community is at greater risk and disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. It is critical that health disparities in marginalized communities are fully captured by government data collection so they can be swiftly addressed. The Trump administration failed to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ people; it is most welcome that the Biden administration is not politicizing our community's health and instead is addressing the realities we are facing.

"This study is only the first step. We look forward to more research on the risks for transgender people and people living with HIV, who also share higher risk factors."

Reports have also found LGBTQ people are disproportionately impacted economically by the pandemic. Over half of transgender people surveyed reported having work hours cut, with one in five losing their jobs. Support services such as shelters and drop-in centers for homeless LGBTQ people have also been affected by the pandemic, forced to temporarily halt services for many in need.

A new report also revealed the disparities between older LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people where healthcare, poverty and economic security are concerned and the increased risk of older LGBTQ people in contracting COVID-19.

There are additional concerns about the pandemic's impact — social distancing, isolation, quarantine — on LGBTQ people's mental health, particularly for LGBTQ youth.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.