COVID-19 advice from the British HIV Association (BHIVA)

posted by: Don Leslie

updated 14th January 2021

BHIVA advice on the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for people living with HIV is now available here.

With intermittent periods of lockdown restrictions and instructions to shield, more social mixing is occurring in society. The easing of restrictions should not encourage people to stop adhering to recommendations on social distancing. Please keep up-to-date with the advice via GOV.UK channels (as below). We advise that people living with HIV (PLWH) should continue to follow Government advice regarding hand washing, distancing and face coverings.

We still do not have enough evidence yet on whether HIV affects risk of harm from COVID-19. So far, there have been only a few large cohort studies examining the impact of COVID-19 for people living with HIV, and the majority of these studies include only a small number of patients. Whilst some studies report a higher risk of COVID-19 related death for people living with HIV, others do not. Any increased risk is relatively small and no analysis has fully adjusted for potential confounders, such as kidney disease, diabetes or obesity, which might affect the results. We need more information to better understand your risks; this will come in the future.

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

If you are concerned please contact  your nearest Devon sexual health clinic for advice.

BHIVA COVID

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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

If you need the combined contraceptive pill please try (if you can) to get updated measurements of your height, weight and blood pressure before calling us.

We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info