News

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

by User Not Found | Mar 16, 2020

Last updated: 1 July 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) OR

  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste.

Please also do not attend clinic if you have come into contact with someone with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms.

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

Due to the coronavirus pandemic normal clinical services are currently suspended. Allphone up before turn up patients will be clinically assessed by telephone initially and are encouraged to contact us on 0300 300 3030 to book a telephone triage appointment. Please note we continue to see patients with urgent problems face to face and you will be offered an appointment if clinically indicated after your initial clinical assessment, for example:

  • Pus from penis or anus
  • Blisters or ulcers on your genitals
  • Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
  • Acute pelvic or testicular pain
  • Emergency Contraception
  • Services for those aged under 16
  • If you feel unsafe in your relationship
  • Long acting reversible contraception (reduced service)

Members of the public attending  iCaSH clinics are also now required to wear a face covering

If you are over the age of 16 and have no symptoms but wish to access screening for sexually transmitted infections, you can use our online Express Test home testing service.

We are beginning to restore routine Long Acting Reversible Contraception for patients, however please be aware that we continue to maintain social distancing and therefore we have reduced number of appointments available. You are advised to make contact with your local clinic via 0300 300 3030 for a clinical consultation.

Services offered will change depending on the progress of the pandemic and national Public Health England advice. Please keep checking our website for up-to date information.

Further information about contraception and sexually transmitted infections can be found on our website here. 

 

Message for people who are HIV positive 

The current guidance from PHE on Social Distancing ‘Staying alert and safe (social distancing) is available here. This advises that some people are clinically vulnerable, meaning they are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus and, as restrictions put in place to reduce transmission of the virus in the community begin to be eased, these people should continue to stay at home as much as possible.  If they do go out, they need to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.  This group is defined as anyone aged 70 and over (regardless of medical conditions), and those under 70 with an underlying health condition and instructed get a flu jab each year on medical grounds.  This includes those who have a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions.

There is a further group of people who are defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable due to being at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus. This group have been advised to take additional action to prevent themselves from coming into contact with the virus i.e. to ‘shield’. On 31st May 2020, the government updated its guidance for this group taking into account that COVID-19 disease levels have decreased over the last few weeks.  It now advises that people who are shielding can go outdoors, either with members of their household, or so that they can meet people not from their household, as long as they maintain strict social distancing.  However, some experts are concerned that there is a risk the infection rate will increase again. BHIVA and THT share this concern but also recognise how isolated people may feel at this time, so advise the following for those who have been advised to shield:

1) If you are physically and psychologically able to continue to shield please do so.

2) If you wish to follow the Government's advice in England and socialise outdoors please be super vigilant in maintaining social distancing, careful hand washing and avoiding any contact at all with people who have symptoms or are known to have COVID-19.

Please see the full statement from BHIVA here.

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.

In response to questions from the HIV community on what to expect, and what to do, if you are an HIV positive person who is admitted to hospital with COVID-19, the British HIV Association (BHIVA) has given the following advice to answer the main points that have been raised. Please click here to access it.  

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. 

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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