Emergency Preparedness and People with HIV
Emergencies can take many forms. They include natural disasters and severe weather, such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires; accidental emergencies, such as explosions or train derailments; or disease outbreaks, such as pandemic flu.
All Americans should have a plan for what to do during an emergency. But for people with HIV, it’s especially important to be prepared in case of an emergency. HIV medicine must be taken every day, exactly as prescribed. A disaster or other emergency may make it harder for you to stick to your treatment plan. To avoid interruptions in your HIV treatment, store a 7- to 10-day supply in a waterproof container to take with you if you have to evacuate. CDC has a prescription drug planning tool to help you be prepared.
You also may want to keep a list of your HIV medications and their dosage amounts and a summary of your HIV treatment history in case you have to see another provider temporarily.
In addition, in the event of an outbreak of a disease (like the flu), consult your healthcare provider to determine whether you need to take specific precautions because you have HIV.
Be aware that natural disasters may affect air and water quality—which can be even harder on people with HIV and others with weakened immune systems. If you have HIV, disruptions in the availability of food and clean water can increase your risk for opportunistic infections. If proper sanitation and hygiene are an issue, it’s important to follow proper food and water safety guidelines. See CDC’s information on keeping food and water safe after a disaster or emergency.
And don’t forget to wash your hands. Washing hands with soap and clean water is the best way to remove germs that can make you and others sick. If you don’t have soap and clean water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Resources to Help You Plan Ahead
There are many resources to help you prepare for emergencies and disasters.
- CDC’s Emergency Preparedness and Response site has information on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
- Ready.gov offers tips and tools to help you plan ahead for many different kinds of disasters and emergencies.
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s State Homeland Security and Emergency Services page provides links to homeland security and public safety websites in your state.
Emergency Resources for People with HIV
The federal government also offers several resources that may be helpful to people with HIV during or after an emergency.
- CDC's COVID-19: What People with HIV Should Know provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and people with HIV.
- CDC’s Disaster Information for People with Chronic Conditions and Disabilities lists information and resources for those with certain health needs, including people with HIV.
- SAMHSA's Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health During an Infectious Disease Outbreak provides information about social distancing,quarantine, and isolation during COVID-19 or another infectious disease outbreak, and tips for caring for your behavioral health during these experiences.
- The FDA’s Safe Drug Use after a Natural Disaster offers information on the use of drugs that have been potentially affected by natural disasters.
- CDC’s Flu and People Living with HIV discusses flu shot recommendations for people with HIV and information about symptoms and treatment.
Resources to Help You During Recovery
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers many resources to help Americans who are recovering from an emergency or disaster.
- Tips for Survivors: Coping with Grief After a Disaster or Traumatic Event offers information about grief, the grieving process, and resources to help with grief.
- Tips for Survivors: Coping with Anger After a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event discusses anger and offers tips for calming yourself.
- Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Coping with Retraumitization discusses the signs and symptoms of retraumatization, as well as guidance on how to manage it.