Positively Aware | July 8, 2021
In October 2020, the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University published a report on the overlapping health disparities associated with HIV and COVID-19. The limited data available indicate that people living with HIV (PLWH) who are on effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) have the same risk for COVID-19 as people who do not have HIV. But as COVID-19 made its way across the country in the first months of 2020, it soon became apparent that people of color were disproportionately affected, and that there was considerable overlap between the communities bearing most of the brunt of COVID-19 and HIV.
These disparities are largely driven by the effects of structural or systemic racism. According to the authors of the O’Neill Institute report, Jeffrey S. Crowley and Sean E. Bland, systemic racism encompasses a broad range of disadvantages embedded in public policy, law, government, and culture. Systemic racism is also manifested in, and influenced by, social determinants of health, which include such areas as education, employment, the healthcare system, housing, income and wealth, the physical environment, public safety, social environments, and transportation, among other factors.