Coronavirus update for those who are HIV positive
The current Guidance from PHE on Social Distancing for Vulnerable Groups is available here. This advises that those who are at risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. It defines this group as ‘anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical Messaging 5 grounds’ and includes those who have ‘a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS’.
Based on the EACS and BHIVA statement dated 20/3/20, and given that people on HIV treatment with a good CD4 cell count and an undetectable viral load are not usually considered to have a "weakened immune system", only people with a CD4 cell count less than 200 cells/mL, a detectable viral load and/or not on ART are considered to fall into this ‘high risk’ category. Those with CD4 count ≥ 200 cells/mL are advised to follow ‘general population advice’ on the need to observe social distancing measures.
However, we are aware that some people living with HIV have received text messages advising them to shield and completely self-isolate for three months, despite there being no evidence, nor guidance, that people with well-controlled HIV should shield. BHIVA and THT recommend that only people whose immune system is known to be very weak as shown by a CD4 count of less than 50 cells/mL, or who have had a serious illness due to suppression of the immune system in the last 6 months, should be encouraged to follow the shielding advice for the extremely vulnerable which is available here.
These are anxious times for everyone, but people living with HIV are being urged not to panic. We will continue to monitor the latest developments and provide updated guidance if and when public health guidance changes.
Please also be reassured that maintaining a seamless supply of anti-retroviral medication to you will be prioritised even if you are unable to attend the clinic or the clinics are closed.
You can also see the rest of our coronavirus guidance here.
What is HIV?
Although they are often mixed up these two words have different meanings. 'HIV' is the name of a virus, whereas 'AIDS' is a name for a collection of illnesses caused by this virus.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) affects the immune system. You can catch the virus through unprotected sex or sometimes through sharing needles for drug use.
Routine blood tests for syphilis and HIV are recommended to all new patients and those who may have been at risk.
If you would like further information about HIV testing please ask to see a doctor, nurse or health adviser. HIV results are usually available within 7 days after testing. In some clinics we offer same day testing, so please contact your local iCaSH clinics direct for further details.
Important information for patients switching medication from:
Click on the links below for our Patient Information Leaflets
HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis
Prescribing Medicines from iCaSH Services