Study: People Living With HIV Need Custom COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Although COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased since the survey was initially conducted, the researchers noted that their results are important when considering the possibility of an annual COVID-19 vaccine.

A new study from Rutgers finds that although most people living with HIV have received at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, younger and Black individuals are hesitant to get vaccinated and have lower vaccination rates.

This study is one of the first to analyze COVID-19 vaccination efforts based on people living with HIV in the United States, according to a Rutgers press release.

The research team nationally surveyed people living with HIV between March and May 2021 at the onset of the vaccination program and found that certain subgroups had lower motivation to get vaccinated.

The participants who were older and had been living with HIV for a longer duration were more likely to have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, showed less vaccine hesitancy, and had higher perceived vulnerability to COVID-19. Further, rates of vaccination were also highest among sexual and gender minority cisgender men and transgender participants, as well as those more likely to report an undetectable viral load, according to the researchers.

Among unvaccinated people living with HIV who completed the survey, sexual and gender minority individuals demonstrated higher intent to get vaccinated compared to non-sexual and gender minority individuals.

Additionally, the research team found that Black participants were least likely to be vaccinated, which was consistent with other studies that examined the relationship between race and residential segregation for individuals infected with HIV and COVID-19 in the United States.

“Our findings suggest that successfully managing COVID-19 and HIV is predicated largely on continued access to trusted health care providers and trusted sources of health information, which likely affects decision-making around vaccine uptake as well as treatments for both HIV and COVID-19,” said Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health and Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies, in the press release.

Although COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased since the survey was initially conducted, the researchers noted that their results 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 booster,” Halkitis said in the press release.

The research team highly suggests tailored public health messaging around the importance of vaccination for people living with HIV, specifically those who are younger, Black, Latinx, or do not have regular exposure to health messaging. It is also important for people living with HIV from various sociodemographic backgrounds that the communication of health information provides a genuine understanding of various communities’ concerns and acts in partnership to address their individual hesitancies.

“The findings from this study also underscore the significance of having a multidimensional approach to promoting the importance of COVID-19 vaccines,” said Kristen D. Krause, instructor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and deputy director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies, in the press release. “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.”

REFERENCE

People living with HIV need tailored COVID-19 vaccination information. Rutgers University. January 21, 2022. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://www.rutgers.edu/news/people-living-hiv-need-tailored-covid-19-vaccination-information