SARS-CoV-2 can produce both severe clinical conditions and long-term sequelae, but data describing post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (PACS) are lacking for people living with HIV (PLWH). We aimed at assessing the prevalence and factors associated with severe COVID-19 and PACS in our cohort. We included all unvaccinated adult PLWH on antiretroviral treatment and plasma HIV-RNA < 40 cp/mL since at least six months before SARS-CoV-2 infection at the Infectious and Tropical Diseases Unit of Padua (Italy), from 20 February 2020 to 31 March 2021. COVID-19 severity was defined by WHO criteria; PACS was defined as the persistence of symptoms or development of sequelae beyond four weeks from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Demographic and clinical variables were collected, and data were analyzed by non-parametric tests. 123 subjects meeting the inclusion criteria among 1800 (6.8%) PLWH in care at the Infectious and Tropical diseases Unit in Padua were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection/COVID-19 during the study period. The median age was 51 years (40−58), 79.7% were males, and 77.2% of Caucasian ethnicity. The median CD4+ T-cell count and length of HIV infection were 560 cells/mmc (444−780) and 11 years, respectively. Of the patients, 35.0% had asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, 48% developed mild COVID-19, 17.1% presented moderate or severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and 4.1% died. Polypharmacy was the single independent factor associated with severe COVID-19. As for PACS, among 75 patients who survived SARS-CoV-2 symptomatic infection, 20 (26.7%) reported PACS at a median follow-up of six months: asthenia (80.0%), shortness of breath (50.0%) and recurrent headache (25.0%) were the three most common complaints. Only the severity of the COVID-19 episode predicted PACS after adjusting for relevant demographic and clinical variables. In our study, PLWH with sustained viral suppression and good immunological response showed that the risk of hospital admission for COVID-19 was low, even though the severity of the disease was associated with high mortality. In addition, the likelihood of developing severe COVID-19 and PACS was mainly driven by similar risk factors to those faced by the general population, such as polypharmacy and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Keywords: AIDS; COVID-19; HIV; PACS; PLWH; SARS-CoV-2; people living with HIV; post-acute COVID-19 syndrome.