Breakthrough COVID infections rare, but more prevalent among people living with HIV

Doctors wearing masks discuss data as they walk through a hospital

After reviewing health records from 113,994 adults, researchers found that the chance of a person being diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2021 after being fully vaccinated was rare. In this case, 3.8% of study participants tested positive for COVID-19 within nine months after being fully vaccinated. However, variations emerged: 4.4% of people living with HIV compared to 3.5% of adults living without HIV reported a breakthrough infection, a term used to describe getting COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. The findings published in JAMA Network Open
Through a discussion summary, the researchers underscored the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, while noting how these findings and future research may help inform COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people living with HIV. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines specific COVID-19 vaccine guidance for people with underlying immune conditions, including advanced or untreated HIV.  
The authors also shared limitations of this research, such as variations in testing and the research taking place before new COVID-19 variants emerged in 2022. They note the findings may not be applicable to all adults living with HIV due to more men and people with access to health care participating in the study.  
The study was supported by a North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design (NA-ACCORD) grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. NA-ACCORD is also supported by NHLBI’s HIV/AIDS research program. The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS)/ Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) Combined Cohort Study was created in 2019 to support the health of people living with HIV.