This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Brumme ZL, Mwimanzi F, Lapointe HR, Cheung P, Sang Y, Duncan MC, Yaseen F, Agafitei O, Ennis S, Ng K, Basra S, Lim LY, Kalikawe R, Speckmaier S, Moran-Garcia N, Young L, Ali H, Ganase B, Umviligihozo G, Omondi FH, Atkinson K, Sudderuddin H, Toy J, Sereda P, Burns L, Costiniuk CT, Cooper C, Anis AH, Leung V, Holmes D, DeMarco ML, Simons J, Hedgcock M, Romney MG, Barrios R, Guillemi S, Brumme CJ, Pantophlet R, Montaner JSG, Niikura M, Harris M, Hull M, Brockman MA. Humoral immune responses to COVID-19 vaccination in people living with HIV on suppressive antiretroviral therapy. npj vaccines.

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

In a research study originally released as a preprint, and now published in npj vaccines, Drs. Zabrina Brumme and Mark Brockman, from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Simon Fraser University, evaluated antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccines in people living with HIV who were receiving suppressive antiretroviral therapy. While the group found that antibody responses following one COVID-19 vaccine dose were modestly lower in people living with HIV compared to those without HIV, this discrepancy disappeared one month after the second vaccine dose. Similarly, three months after the second vaccine dose, there continued to be no effect of HIV infection on COVID-19 vaccine responses after adjusting for sociodemographic, age, and vaccine-related factors. These findings, emerge from a CITF-funded pan-Canadian study headed by Dr. Aslam Anis of the Canadian HIV Trials Network.

Key findings:

  • Antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccines following one dose were modestly lower in people living with HIV compared to individuals without HIV, but these differences disappeared one month after they received a second dose.
  • Three months after a second vaccine dose – upon adjusting for sociodemographic, age, and vaccine-related factors – the researchers continued to find that HIV infection had no effect on COVID-19 vaccine responses.
  • People living with HIV who had low CD4+ T-cell counts in the past can still mount an adequate immune response.

The 100 people living with HIV recruited for this study in British Columbia were all on suppressive antiretroviral therapy. Almost all had immune cell counts within the range of healthy individuals. A control group included 152 people without HIV.

The results indicate that people living with HIV, whose infection is well-controlled with therapy and whose CD4+ T-cell counts are in the normal range, generally mount strong immune responses to a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine regimen. Further studies of people living with HIV who are not receiving antiretroviral treatment or who have low CD4+ T-cell counts are needed, as are ongoing studies of vaccine durability, including to third (booster) doses. The researchers continue to follow the participants in their cohort and plan to release additional data on initial responses to third vaccine doses shortly.