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Infectious Diseases Week highlights College of Medicine research on clinical outcomes of COVID-19 in people living with HIV

People living with HIV have a greater susceptibility to COVID-19, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. They presented their findings during IDWeek 2020, a virtual, international, infectious diseases conference on Oct. 21 to 25.

Dr. Paddy Ssentongo led a group of researchers who conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the prevalence of HIV and clinical outcomes of people living with HIV who were hospitalized with COVID-19. The group reviewed worldwide studies published January through June 15, 2020, in bibliographic databases, including MEDLINE, Scopus, OVID and the Cochrane Library.

“Conflicting information regarding the susceptibility to coronavirus in people living with HIV led us to pool existing information on the prevalence of HIV among individuals hospitalized for COVID-19,” said Ssentongo, an epidemiology graduate student and assistant research professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics. “Our study shows a twofold higher rate of HIV in patients hospitalized for COVID-19 compared to the region-specific general population. These findings are critical to patient management.”

Researchers examined 14 studies of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in North America, Europe and Asia. The median age of patients was 55 years old, and the majority were male (66%). Out of the 144,795 patients studied, 573 had HIV.

The pooled HIV prevalence among COVID-19 patients in the United States was significantly higher compared to Spain, but was not different from China. The pooled mortality rate for people living with HIV hospitalized for COVID-19 was 14.1% and was substantially higher in the United States compared to other countries.

Emily Heilbrunn, a public health sciences graduate student and human research technologist with Project ECHO at the College of Medicine, presented the findings during a virtual, interactive poster session. The Infectious Diseases Society of America, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the HIV Medicine Association, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists co-hosted ID week.

Vernon M. Chinchilli, Anna Ssentongo and Dr. Jonathan J. Nunez of Penn State College of Medicine; Dr. Ping Du, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company; and Dr. Shailesh Advani, Georgetown University School of Medicine also participated in this research.

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