updated Thursday 16th April 2020
The British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) have updated their 23 March 2020 COVID-19 statement for people with HIV in the light of the latest UK Government advice: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
Everyone is advised to stay at home and:
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home);
- Stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people;
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
The guidance includes how to reduce risk if you must go outside.
There is separate guidance for people or households who are isolating and ‘shielding’ for people with conditions considered extremely vulnerable, which does not include HIV.
Although there remains no evidence to determine whether people with HIV are at greater risk of getting COVID-19 or severe disease, BHIVA and THT advise that people with a CD4 less than 50, or who have had an opportunistic illness (a serious illness due to suppression of the immune system) within the last 6 months, should be encouraged to follow the shielding advice for the extremely vulnerable.
1) People with a CD4 count <50 or opportunistic illness in last 6 months: follow shielding advice for extremely vulnerable;
2) People with CD4 <200, detectable viral load or not on ART: follow social distancing advice stringently;
3) People with CD4 >200 and undetectable on ART: follow general population advice (ie social distancing).
BHIVA are aware that some people living with HIV have been contacted by letter or text message instructing them to shield. HIV specific advice is still based on your CD4 count and treatment adherence as above. You may be asked to shield because of other health conditions and these can be discussed with us or your GP practice.
Please note that there is no evidence to date that antiretrovirals, as HIV treatment or as PrEP, have any potential for treating coronavirus.
To check the most up-to-date advice please review the BHIVA news pages.
Here is a blog post from THT Medical Director Dr Michael Brady which covers some FAQs: https://www.tht.org.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19?mc_cid=ddd48f5cfc&mc_eid=1123d39017