Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is spreading worldwide with different clinical manifestations. Age and comorbidities may explain severity in critical cases and people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) might be at particularly high risk for severe progression. Nonetheless, current data, although sometimes contradictory, do not confirm higher morbidity, risk of more severe COVID-19 or higher mortality in HIV-infected people with complete access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). A possible protective role of ART has been hypothesized to explain these observations. Anti-viral drugs used to treat HIV infection have been repurposed for COVID-19 treatment; this is also based on previous studies on severe acute respiratory syndrome virus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome virus (MERS-CoV). Among them, lopinavir/ritonavir, an inhibitor of viral protease, was extensively used early in the pandemic but it was soon abandoned due to lack of effectiveness in clinical trials. However, remdesivir, a nucleotide analog that acts as reverse-transcriptase inhibitor, which was tested early during the pandemic because of its wide range of antiviral activity against several RNA viruses and its safety profile, is currently the only antiviral medication approved for COVID-19. Tenofovir, another nucleotide analog used extensively for HIV treatment and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has also been hypothesized as effective in COVID-19. No data on tenofovir’s efficacy in coronavirus infections other than COVID-19 are currently available, although information relating to SARS-CoV-2 infection is starting to come out. Here, we review the currently available evidence on tenofovir’s efficacy against SARS-CoV-2.
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