Racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 disease incidence independent of comorbidities, among people with HIV in the US

medRxiv. 2021 Dec 8;2021.12.07.21267296. doi: 10.1101/2021.12.07.21267296. Preprint


Objectives: To define the incidence of clinically-detected COVID-19 in people with HIV (PWH) in the US and evaluate how racial and ethnic disparities, comorbidities, and HIV-related factors contribute to risk of COVID-19.

Design: Observational study within the CFAR Network of Integrated Clinical Systems cohort in 7 cities during 2020.

Methods: We calculated cumulative incidence rates of COVID-19 diagnosis among PWH in routine care by key characteristics including race/ethnicity, current and lowest CD4 count, and geographic area. We evaluated risk factors for COVID-19 among PWH using relative risk regression models adjusted with disease risk scores.

Results: Among 16,056 PWH in care, of whom 44.5% were Black, 12.5% were Hispanic, with a median age of 52 years (IQR 40-59), 18% had a current CD4 count < 350, including 7% < 200; 95.5% were on antiretroviral therapy, and 85.6% were virologically suppressed. Overall in 2020, 649 PWH were diagnosed with COVID-19 for a rate of 4.94 cases per 100 person-years. The cumulative incidence of COVID-19 was 2.4-fold and 1.7-fold higher in Hispanic and Black PWH respectively, than non-Hispanic White PWH. In adjusted analyses, factors associated with COVID-19 included female sex, Hispanic or Black identity, lowest historical CD4 count <350 (proxy for CD4 nadir), current low CD4/CD8 ratio, diabetes, and obesity.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the presence of structural racial inequities above and beyond medical comorbidities increased the risk of COVID-19 among PWHPWH with immune exhaustion as evidenced by lowest historical CD4 or current low CD4:CD8 ratio had greater risk of COVID-19.

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  • Preprint