There is no evidence that healthy people with HIV are more susceptible than others to swine flu.
The global number of confirmed cases of the swine-origin H1N1 virus rose to more than 1000 this week, but none have been associated with HIV.

Doctors instead recommended people with HIV consider vaccinating against seasonal influenza and bacterial pneumonia.

The US was the only government to issue a specific statement on HIV and H1N1, saying people with HIV in close contact with a suspected case of either seasonal or H1N1 flu should seek antiviral medication. It said Tamiflu was effective against both flu strains and had no known complications with HIV medication.

The Australian Government has stockpiled about 8 million doses of Tamiflu in the event of an officially declared pandemic, enough to cover 41 percent of the population. However, the World Health Organisation has only recognised six cases of H1N1 in the region, all from New Zealand.

Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) has supported seasonal flu vaccinations for anyone who works in close contact with others, regardless of HIV-related immune suppression.

It would be too speculative to say anything useful at this point about susceptibility except perhaps that people with HIV might be likely to get bacterial pneumonia so Pneumavax might be a sensible thing to give at the moment, ASHM president Dr Jonathan Anderson said.

NAPWA’s treatment expert Bill Whittaker said it wasn’t known if people with HIV were taking advice to seek flu vaccinations.

For someone with advanced HIV disease and a low immune system the recommendation is very different from someone with a high CD4 count, he said.

Positive Life spokesman Rob Lake said general health advice was also important to remember, such as washing hands and taking care in crowded spaces.

info: ACON has a fact sheet on swine flu online at acon.org.au.

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