Rorisang Kgosana
3 minute read
1 Dec 2021
7:18 pm

Omicron: What’s the link between HIV and new Covid-19 variant?

Rorisang Kgosana

Though the exact source of Omicron hasn't conclusively been traced, the possibility exists that untreated HIV may cause mutations like those seen in the variant.

There is speculation that the new Covid-19 variant Omicron developed in an untreated HIV positive person. Photo: iStock

As more HIV positive people stopped their antiretroviral treatment this year, their immune system became more vulnerable. Scientists think this might have contributed to the mutation of Covid-19, including the latest Omicron variant. With 13.7% of South Africans being HIV positive, a large proportion of the population is susceptible to Covid-19 infections due to HIV targeting the immune system. Making this situation worse is that 4% of the 8.2 million HIV infected people were off their antiretroviral medication this year, according to Statistics SA. This means 328,000 HIV positive patients are not taking their medication, which has proven to reduce...