It’s a Sin

posted by: Jonathan Shaw

On the lead up to National HIV Testing Week 2021, starting 1st February, Channel 4’s #itsasin is on our screens. This new drama from Russell T Davies shows us the stark reality of life during the HIV/AIDs epidemic in the 1980s. Whilst important to reflect on those difficult times, especially as we find ourselves fighting another global infection outbreak, it is important for everyone to know how far we have come with our understanding of HIV since then:

  • People living with HIV who are on effective treatment live long and healthy lives. Recent evidence suggests patients diagnosed and treated early for HIV will have a normal life expectancy.
  • We also now understand that effective HIV treatment prevents the transmission of the virus to their sexual partner(s). #U=U (undetectable = untransmittable) means that the treatment a person living with HIV takes, suppresses the virus to undetectable levels, meaning it cannot be passed on to others.
  • HIV testing is quick and easy, via a number of organisations including our clinic or online during HIV testing week, with results available within days – click here to find out more.

Whilst it is important that we honour and remember those we have lost to HIV/AIDS, it is also really important that we inform and educate people on how far we have come since then. HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was.

It is important to know your HIV status if you haven’t recently tested.

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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.

More details on the fitting of LARCs (coils and implants) at our service can be found 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.

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