News

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice: read before attending clinic

by Emily Loud | Mar 16, 2020

Last updated: 30 March 2020 

To help protect our staff and other service users, please stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days and do not visit our service if you or a member of your household have:

  • a new continuous cough

    OR

  • a high temperature (of 37.8 degrees centigrade or higher)

Here is some helpful guidance to help you whilst you are staying at home.  If you have serious symptoms you cannot manage at home, use NHS 111 online (please only call NHS 111 if they cannot get online).

Our services

To reduce the number of people sitting in our waiting rooms and thereby helping to delay the spread of the virus, we are now only delivering essential services in line with national guidance.

This means only emergency contraception and urgent GUM and HIV services. GU/HIV contacts, where identified as emergencies, will be telephone triaged and seen in clinic where appropriate.

Please call us on 0300 300 3030, where our team will discuss the reason for your call, triage (if needed) and advise on next steps. If you do not have symptoms, please contact us again in 12 weeks for screening. If you develop symptoms please call us on 0300 300 3030.

Alternatively, if you have no symptoms but wish to access screening for sexually transmitted infections, you can use our Express Test home testing kit.

Message for people who are HIV positive

With regards to advice about how best to protect yourself and others from coronavirus, the situation is changing on a daily basis so we would suggest that you follow national NHS guidance. This can be found here and is regularly updated. 

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, whilst there remains no evidence to determine whether people with HIV are at greater risk of COVID-19 acquisition, it is advised that patients with a CD4 cell count less than 50 cells/mL, or people who have had an opportunistic illness within the last 6 months, should undertake ‘shielding’ and follow the advice for the extremely vulnerable which is available here.

We will continue to update this advice as 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. 

General advice

Check out the guide to sex, social distancing and covid-19 from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV here.

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