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HIV Service

For any of our HIV positive patients concerned about their risk from Coronavirus please see the FAQ’s on the link below. If that does not answer you queries and you still have concerns please call your local clinics;

The HIV teams are available Monday – Friday 9-5pm on the numbers below.

  • East Lancs –01282 805970
  • Central Lancashire /North Lancashire & South Cumbria HIV team – 01772 522188
  • Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde – 01253 951924

https://www.bhiva.org/coronavirus-and-HIV-responses-to-common-questions-from-BHIVA

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Advice for Persons living with HIV

During the current Covid-19 Pandemic it is important to be aware and informed of the current advice and guidance for those people living with HIV. This is a fast moving pandemic and we are still learning what this means for people living with HIV, however we are taking guidance from the British HIV Association (BHIVA) whilst also following advice from the Government.

What we know so far is that those who are taking HIV treatment and have a good CD4 count (over 200) do not appear to be any more at risk of infection or of complications from Covid-19 than the general HIV negative population, those people should continue to follow current government guidance like the general population and that advice can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

There are certain people living with HIV who may be more at risk of infection or complications from Covid-19 and these include those who have weakened immune systems due to having a low CD4 count (less than 200) and those who are not currently taking HIV treatment or have a detectable viral load. Those who fall into this category should be following current guidance on self- isolation for this 12 week period by following the below advice:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

Those people who have a very low CD4 count <50 or have recently had an opportunistic infection in the last 6 months due to having advanced HIV are considered more at risk and potentially more vulnerable to infection and complications from Covid-19, these people are advised to follow strict advice around Shielding. Here is the information you need on how you do this and to keep yourself safe:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

If you are unsure if you are more at risk then please contact your HIV service for advice. We strongly advise that you continue to take your HIV treatment. We advise that you check your supply of medicines and contact your HIV team if you are running low so we can ensure you do not run out; however there is no need to stockpile medicines.

If you would like further information regarding the latest advice from BHIVA this can be found here:

https://www.bhiva.org/EACS-BHIVA-statement-on-risk-of-COVID-19-for-people-living-with-HIV-PLWH

Some people living with HIV may have been notified recently via text message or letter due to receiving a flu vaccine, some of these messages have been sent in error. If you have been notified and have no other underlying health conditions then continue to follow the above guidance in relation to HIV. If you do have an additional health condition other than HIV and your HIV is stable then you still need to follow the guidance you have been given to protect yourself. More is clarified here on why these messages were sent:

https://www.bhiva.org/shielding-text-messages-sent-in-error-to-people-living-with-HIV

Additional evidence based advice and updates can also be found using the links below:

http://i-base.info/covid-19/

https://www.aidsmap.com/about-hiv/coronavirus-covid-19-and-hiv

https://www.tht.org.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19

What to do if you have any other underlying Health Conditions and are living with HIV

It is very important that even if you have stable HIV but also have an additional underlying health condition that has been identified by Public Health England as being more at risk and have already been advised to self- isolate or have been notified that you are on the Shielding list it is very important you continue to follow this advice. Those who have been identified are listed here:

Further information how to protect yourself can be found here:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Support         

If you need further support at home to self- isolate if you do fall into the at risk category or are on the Shielding list then we can signpost you to local support hubs that can assist with medication collection, shopping etc. Please do not hesitate to ask for help.

What to do if you are currently abroad

If you are currently abroad and now unable to return to the UK you can find details of your nearest HIV clinic using the link below if you are in Europe:

(Europe only) http://www.aidsmap.com/european-test-finder

We strongly advise you continue to take HIV treatment and so if you are running low on medicines contact the nearest clinic available or if unable to find one you can often get support from your Embassy. Further advice for when abroad can be found here:

https://www.tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/living-well-hiv/your-rights/travelling-hiv/travelling-hiv-medication

HIV Services

We are now running HIV services differently to ensure we are following government advice. We are only seeing patients face to face when absolutely necessary and most consultations are now via telephone to reduce risks to both patients and staff. Blood tests and investigations may be delayed if you are well and have an undetectable viral load. If you are unsure about how any of this advice affects you or have any questions about HIV then please do not hesitate to contact your HIV Team.

Your HIV team will continue to provide care and support during this time and can be contacted as normal.

Look after yourself; the best defence against the virus is to stay at home when possible, stopping social contact, regular hand-washing and self- isolating when necessary.

Leaflet: Routine HIV screening at Blackpool Teaching Hospital in the Emergency Department