Researchers call for personalized public health messaging on COVID-19 vaccination for HIV patients

While most people living with HIV have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, younger, black people are hesitant to get vaccinated and have lower vaccination rates, new research from Rutgers researchers finds. .

The study, published in Care of patients with AIDS and STDs, is among the first to examine COVID-19 vaccination efforts based on people living with HIV in the United States.

The researchers surveyed people living with HIV nationwide between March and May 2021-;at the start of the vaccination program-; and found that while most individuals reported receiving at least one dose of a vaccine, some subgroups had less intention to get vaccinated.

Participants who were older and had been living with HIV longer were more likely to have received at least one dose of vaccine, showed less vaccine hesitancy, and had higher perceived vulnerability to COVID-19. Vaccination rates were also highest among cisgender men and sexual and gender minority transgender participants, as well as among those more likely to report an undetectable viral load.

Of the unvaccinated people living with HIV who responded to the survey, people from sexual and gender minorities – which includes, but is not limited to, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual , asexual, and transgender—showed higher intention to get vaccinated than non-sexual and gender minority people.

The researchers also found that black participants were the least likely to be vaccinated, which is consistent with other studies that have demonstrated the relationship between race and residential segregation for those infected with HIV and COVID-19. 19 in the United States, where people of color tend to live in less economically advantaged neighborhoods.

“Our results suggest that the successful management of COVID-19 and HIV relies in large part on continued access to trusted healthcare providers and reliable sources of health information, which likely affects uptake. about taking vaccines as well as treatments for HIV and COVID-19,” says Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health and director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies who has collected the data.

Although COVID-19 vaccination rates have likely increased since the survey was conducted, the researchers say their findings are important when considering the possibility of an annual COVID-19 vaccine.

Increasing and maintaining access to vaccination for people living with HIV is crucial, especially as we expect COVID-19 to become endemic, requiring an annual dose or a booster.

Perry N. Halkitis, Dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health and Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies

Researchers call for personalized public health messages about the importance of vaccination for people living with HIV, especially those who are younger, black, Latina, or who are not regularly exposed to health messages, such as heterosexual cisgender men who are less likely to access care. for HIV, and cisgender women who have consistently expressed false concerns about the vaccine’s potential effects on fertility and reproductive health.

For people living with HIV from various socio-demographic backgrounds, it is essential that the communication of health information allows a real understanding of the concerns of the various communities and acts in partnership to overcome reluctance.

“The results of this study also underscore the importance of having a multifaceted approach to promoting the importance of COVID-19 vaccines,” says Kristen D. Krause, a professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and deputy director of the Center for Health. , Identity , Behavioral and prevention studies. “It has become clear over time that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for everyone, and those living with HIV/AIDS are no different, even if they are used to public health messaging.”

This work shows that no group should be treated as monolithically as the approach of medical providers too often is. Health care providers as well as public health messaging need to consider the many intersectional identities people hold, the researchers say.

The study’s co-authors include staff from the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies at the Rutgers School of Public Health.


Journal reference:

Jaiswal, J. et al. (2021) SARS-CoV-2 vaccination hesitancy and behaviors in a national sample of people living with HIV. Care of patients with AIDS and STDs.

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