The COVID-19 pandemic has great potential to disrupt the lives of persons living with HIV (PLWH). The present convergent parallel design mixed-methods study explored the early effects of COVID-19 on African American/Black or Latino (AABL) long-term survivors of HIV in a pandemic epicenter, New York City. A total of 96 AABL PLWH were recruited from a larger study of PLWH with non-suppressed HIV viral load. They engaged in structured assessments focused on knowledge, testing, trust in information sources, and potential emotional, social, and behavioral impacts. Twenty-six of these participants were randomly selected for in-depth semi-structured interviews. Participants were mostly men (64%), African American/Black (75%), and had lived with HIV for 17 years, on average (SD=9 years). Quantitative results revealed high levels of concern about and the adoption of recommended COVID-19 prevention recommendations. HIV care visits were commonly canceled but, overall, engagement in HIV care and antiretroviral therapy use were not seriously disrupted. Trust in local sources of information was higher than trust in various federal sources. Qualitative findings complemented and enriched quantitative results and provided a multifaceted description of both risk factors (e.g., phones/internet access were inadequate for some forms of telehealth) and resilience (e.g., “hustling” for food supplies). Participants drew a direct line between structural racism and the disproportional adverse effects of COVID-19 on communities of color, and their knowledge gleaned from the HIV pandemic was applied to COVID-19. Implications for future crisis preparedness are provided, including how the National HIV/AIDS Strategy can serve as a model to prevent COVID-19 from becoming another pandemic of the poor.
Black and Latino persons living with HIV evidence risk and resilience in the context of COVID-19: A mixed-methods study of the early phase of the pandemic
AIDS and Behavior [Epub 2021 Feb 10]. doi: 10.1007/s10461-021-03177-0. PMCID: PMC7873114.