HIV positive status does not affect flu transmission
According to a study published in December in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, transmission of the seasonal flu virus was not directly related to HIV-positive status, despite the increased vulnerability to infection of people living with HIV.
As follows from the materials published in the article, scientists came to such conclusions on the basis of a study of cases of transmission of flu in everyday life in 2013 and 2014. The work was carried out in South Africa.
Domestic influenza transmission cases with a positive result during the real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) were recorded as “index” in the period from May to October of each year. These tests were performed by collecting nasopharyngeal swabs and carrying out rRT PCR every 4 days.
Comparisons were made using previous results of the general interval of 2013 and the risk of secondary infection among people who had HIV-negative status.
The study involved 28 people with HIV and 57 without it. A total of 333 household contacts were recorded.
None of them had HIV infection directly related to the transmission of influenza. The risk of secondary infection was 16% (18/113) versus 27% (59/220) for people without HIV (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.2; 95% CI, 0.1–0.6).
The risk of secondary infection was higher in “indexed” cases among people aged 1–4 years (RR 3.6; 95% CI 1,2,2,3,3) and from 25 to 44 years old (OR 8.0; 95% CI 1.8-36.7). Also, the likelihood of a secondary infection was higher among those who slept next to flu carriers (RR 2.7; CI 95%, 1.3-5.5) and had more contact with people aged 1 to 4 (RR 3.5; CI 95%, 1.2-10.3).
Thus, specialists have not identified any connection between the HIV-positive status of people and the transmission of influenza.
Scientists have concluded that in “index” cases [people with HIV] are less likely than [people without] HIV to transmit the flu virus infection in everyday life. This suggests that even with a high viral load of HIV in a person with a positive status, this factor is not decisive in the transmission of influenza to others.
The researchers also stressed that children aged 1 to 4 years old and adults 25 to 44 years old are more likely to get the flu. Therefore, these age groups should be considered as the main participants in vaccination programs.