Dr. Aljawharah Alrubayyi, University of Oxford
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed immense healthcare challenges globally, especially for those with underlying chronic diseases. People living with HIV (PLWH) are a particularly vulnerable population, given their weakened immune systems. With almost 40 million PLWH worldwide, it is essential to understand whether their immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 are compromised and less durable than those without HIV. This knowledge is crucial in clinical management and the development of vaccination programs. To address this knowledge gap, we conducted a study to assess the immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in PLWH after infection or vaccination. Our results provide benchmark data into the facets of adaptive immunity against SARS-CoV-2 in the setting of treated HIV infection, providing evidence for medium-term durable responses. Although reassuring, our study also highlights the vulnerability of PLWH with inadequate immune reconstitution, who showed decreased ability to respond to SARS-CoV-2. This subpopulation may be more vulnerable with relevance to vaccine prioritization and potential effectiveness. Overall, our study provides valuable insights into the immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in PLWH and has implications for the development of next-generation vaccine regimens.
Aljawharah Alrubayyi is currently a DPhil student in Clinical Medicine at University of Oxford. Her research interest is directed towards chronic viral infections (Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV) and emerging viral diseases (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2). Her doctoral research is focused on understanding the role of key immune cell components during HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 infections and their contribution to clinical outcomes. This represents a key step for the identification of novel targets that could aid the development of vaccines and therapeutics.